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A Birmingham Nursery that Ticks All the Boxes
If you’re looking for a nursery, pre-school or other childcare setting for your little one, you need to ensure that it ticks all the right boxes. It needs to be high quality in all respects, well thought-of by existing and past parents, conveniently located for dropping off and picking up — and a whole lot more. If you’re looking in the Edgbaston or Birmingham area, Leaps & Bounds Day Nursery is hard to beat. Compare any other contenders with us and you’ll soon see that we shape up extremely well as a nursery. Take a look via our nursery check list:

Convenience

Convenience

Fees & Funding

Fees & funding

Facilities & Equipment

Facilities & equipment

Visiting the Nursery

Visiting the nursery

Social Proof

Social proof

Ofsted Report

Ofsted report

Safety & Security

Safety & security

The Setting & Staff

The setting & staff

Conclusion

Conclusion

(Information correct at time of writing).

We hope you like what you see about Leaps & Bounds Day Nursery. If so, we’re convenient for those looking for a childcare nursery in and around Edgbaston, Harborne, Ladywood, Bearwood, Smethwick and, of course, Birmingham itself. Contact us or book a visit here, or call 0121 246 4922 to ask any questions. We’ll be very happy to help.

The many merits of messy play

Face painting funMost kids, especially the young, absolutely love messy play. Whether face-painting, hand printing, playing creatively with food or making masterpieces with clay, preschoolers are usually in their element when they’re making a mess with media of one form or another. Look at a photo of any such activity involving a child and you’re likely to see the pure joy and sense of wonder right there on their faces. They’re likely to be grinning from ear to ear and perhaps even raising their messy hands proudly towards the camera!

Not only is messy play extraordinarily good fun for very young children, but it also has a surprisingly number of long-term benefits for them. We’ll explore some of those in this article. Hopefully, it may help some of the more sceptical parents to understand why it is such an essential element of early years education, despite the occasional splatter of paint going astray.

The benefits of messy play

Messy play is great fun for under-fivesIt’s fun!

The fun aspect of messy play should firstly be considered as important in itself. After all, if children cannot have fun with messy play when they’re youngsters, when can they? Messy play is a great opportunity to get really ‘hands-on’ and totally creative. Learning through this type of play, when having real fun, is the most natural of ways to learn. Messy play is a perfect way for children to discover and to express themselves.

Developing the senses

Messy play is a feast for the senses and it gives children the opportunity to really explore these. They can explore textures, touch, smell, liquids, solids, hardness, softness, colour and even taste when appropriate. Children up to the age of two are particularly responsive to messy and sensory play. It will teach them about the world around them, and about their own senses, in so many different ways.

Stimulating the imagination, boosting creativity & quietly educating

Messy play stimulates children's imaginationsAs they get older, they can build on these new sensory ‘building blocks’ and develop them further, in ever-more creative ways. They will have picked up new skills and knowledge around things like combining colour pigments, mark-making, use of textures, the properties of materials and building/affixing know-how through messy play. Allowing them to explore what’s possible with objects, colour, texture, size, shape and form will stimulate their imagination and make them naturally more creative.

What’s interesting is that children may start off simply enjoying being messy but they’ll very soon progress to making some sort of creative plan in their minds, perhaps building a fantasy world, game or situation of some kind with their peers.

Independent working & team-working skills

Messy play allows children to let their imagination be totally free, whether working and playing independently or with a group of friends. Indeed, teamwork and independent working will be very important skills to possess as they grow through the years into adulthood and ultimately begin their careers.

Messy play also helps children with communication, independent working and team-workingEnhancing communication skills

Taking this a step further, you can see how messy play can help to begin the process of improving communication skills, both with educators and other children. Messy play can be a sociable activity, promoting conversations, social interactions and even negotiation, all in a very natural way. Children like to share their discoveries and will get great pleasure from showing their playmates their creative achievements and discoveries. That’s a great way to bond.

Messy play also promotes questions and answers for parents, children and nursery staff to explore together. This, in turn, can improve skills like articulation, vocabulary, problem-solving and the analysis of cause and effect.

Improving motor skills & building muscle strength

Messy play also helps children, particularly the very young, to develop their fine motor skills. Activities like squeezing, scooping, swiping and sieving all require muscle control in fingers, wrists, arms and shoulders. It also develops their movement skills by combining the use of different groups of muscles used for things like balancing, picking up, applying media, fashioning things like clay and so on. Such activity can also build muscle and muscle control in children’s fingers and hands. This can prepare them for holding pencils, for example, once they start learning to write.

Similarly, gross motor skills can be improved via messy play. These skills involve large movements along with greater balance and strength. This can all be developed in the larger muscles, for example in arms, legs and feet through messy play activities like jumping in puddles, playing in sand outdoors, constructing larger-scale creations and suchlike.
Messy play helps children develop motor skills, body strength & coordination

Body control and balance skills are also needed – and gradually improved – when children undertake messy play activities like pouring paint, using a paint brush at an easel or carefully building some kind of creation.

Enhancing hand-eye coordination

It naturally follows that many of these activities will improve children’s hand-eye coordination as they get ever-better at activities like cutting out materials, being precise with glue or paint and on the levels of concentration that’s needed for some messy play activities.

Honing Spatial Awareness

Improving spatial awareness is very important for under-fives as it’s a skill that can keep them safer and literally out of harm’s way when they get it right. Messy play can help with this as the children learn about the space around them and begin to recall where items and other people are within that area. Good spatial awareness will also, of course, keep other children out of their way and begin to foster a feeling of respect for others and their personal spaces.

Messy play at Leaps & Bounds Day Nursery

Messy play at Leaps & Bounds Day Nursery, Edgbaston, BirminghamAt Leaps & Bounds Day Nursery in Edgbaston, we really embrace the learning opportunities available to children through messy play. Of course, that’s all done with a curriculum-led structure, under close supervision. It’s also scheduled for appropriate times and with the appropriate protections in place (for example using protective aprons or changes of clothing arranged previously with parents).

Well-equipped areas in the nursery allow children of all ages access to messy play, whether on a small or larger scale. Children can play with sand, water, coloured paints, paper and card, natural resources and areas set up for small and large scale marking, construction and other types of messy play.

Messy play is, of course, also closely related to expressive art and design, which is a core part of our EYFS curriculum. Here, children explore a wide variety of materials and creative media and learn to express their ideas, improve artistic abilities and enhance their communication and motor skills. In turn, all of this helps to improve self-confidence, self-esteem, the importance of which cannot be over-emphasised.

There is no wrong or right way for messy play and we appreciate that not all children enjoy getting their hands dirty or perhaps wet. However, at Leaps & Bounds Day Nursery they can explore messy play at their own pace and do whatever makes them feel comfortable.

Looking for childcare nurseries in the Birmingham area?

If you are looking for a nursery place in or around Birmingham for your baby or child under five, we currently have places available at Leaps & Bounds Day Nursery, although they’re being filled up fast. We’re based in Edgbaston, so are conveniently located for those looking for childcare in the Birmingham area including Edgbaston, Harborne, Ladywood, Bearwood and Smethwick. Call us on 0121 246 4922, email us here or arrange a visit to the nursery here. We’ll be delighted to speak with you.

COVID-19 safety measures as the nursery eases out of lockdown

Leaps & Bounds Nursery and pre-school is fully open again for childcare services. So, if you have any little ones who require a nursery or pre-school place in or around Edgbaston, Birmingham, please get in touch. We’d be delighted to tell you more and hopefully soon welcome your child to the nursery.

Stringent health & safety measures to safeguard your child

Social distancing protocols in placeIt goes without saying that the health and safety of our babies, children, parents and staff is our absolute top priority. That’s why we have put in place stringent measures to keep everyone safe and well as we welcome families back to the nursery following lock-down. We are also delighted to confirm that we have had zero cases of COVID-19 at any of our nurseries or within staff and families who have been attending. That’s a testament to everyone involved — the children themselves, parents, key workers and staff alike. Thanks to everyone involved for their efforts in making this possible and for adhering to the safety protocols that have been necessary to date.

That said, some parents or guardians may have concerns about their children going back to nursery or pre-school. We completely understand this. We can hopefully put your minds at rest, though, as we have some excellent anti-virus measures in place across all our nurseries. These meet and far exceed Government guidelines and are designed to keep everyone as safe as possible. It’s also worth noting that our nursery owners are practising medical professionals, with the most up-to-date information, so know the very best approach to safeguarding everyone’s health and wellbeing.

Our Safeguarding policy is available here to read or download.

Our anti-virus measures:

  • The biggest safeguarding measure at our nurseries is much greater use of our very large outdoor spaces — outside, there are much lower transmission risks. So, we are utilising our outdoor areas very actively at the moment and are moving significant parts of the curriculum out there. We are, of course, ensuring that our outdoor spaces have more sheltered areas where children and staff can play, learn and work undercover, in comfort.
  • The nursery is sticking to small ‘bubble’ groups of 3, 4 or 6 children, depending on age group. This greatly minimises the chance of any virus spreading.
  • We’re also not taking our nursery to full capacity. This ensures that there is enough space for children to maintain good social distancing.
  • Parents now have staggered drop-off and collection times. They are asked to remain outside and to maintain a minimum of 2m social distancing from other parents and children.
  • We’re using alcohol wipes liberally around the nursery to keep hands, surfaces, toys, equipment etc. all exceptionally well sanitised.
  • United Nations COVID-19 posterWe are very active with hand washing around the nursery, encouraging children to do likewise and spend sufficient time and attention to detail when doing so.
  • We take extra special precautions when cooking meals. For example, the chefs wear masks and face visors when cooking, to absolutely minimise any risk.
  • Staff change clothes when they arrive at the nursery and regularly wash them at 60 degrees.
  • When nappies are changed, staff wear a face shield and are ‘double-gloving’.
  • We have the very best FFP3 face masks and use these whenever needed.
  • We check temperatures of staff and children, whenever appropriate.
  • We are also following the Government’s new Track & Trace policy to the full. This would include asking children who develop symptoms to have a test. Should they be found to be positive, they would then have to isolate. Their house ‘bubble’ would have to self-isolate too.

If your child develops possible symptoms

We are, of course, asking families of anyone who has high temperatures or other possible symptoms of COVID-19 to please stay away from the nursery – and to self-isolate.

Government advice is for you to call 111 if you are worried about a baby or child under five. If they definitely seem unwell, are getting worse, or you suspect something is seriously wrong with them, call 999. Trust your instincts and do not delay. Further advice about coronavirus in children can be found at the NHS site here.

Looking for a nursery place for your child? We’d love to hear from you

If you’d like to know more about a possible place for your baby or child at Leaps & Bounds nursery and preschool, please get in touch. Call 0121 246 4922 or email us here and we’ll be very happy to help. We are a nursery and pre-school based in Edgbaston (Birmingham, B16), near Harborne, Ladywood, Bearwood and Smethwick.

Free Childcare Funding for 3 & 4 Year Olds – Everything you Need to Know

This article explains everything you will need to know about free childcare funding for 3 and 4 year olds in England. Perhaps you’ve heard reference to ’15 hours funding’ or ’30 hours funding’ and need some clarification about what they mean and whether your child is entitled to them. If so, read on …

15 hours of free childcare funding

How it works

All 3 and 4 year old children in England are entitled to 15 hours of free childcare funding per week. This is funded by the UK Government, the funding being paid direct to the approved childcare setting involved. The 15 hours per week are usually spread over 38 weeks of the year, totalling a maximum of 570 hours. However, they can be spread out in a different way should the need arise, subject to agreement of the nursery, pre-school or other childcare setting involved.

Eligibility

After application, funding is available from the first term following the child’s 3rd birthday. In practice, this means that the child can start from either 1 January, 1 April or 1 September depending on which part of the year their third birthday falls.

The income of the child’s parent or guardian is not a factor affecting eligibility for the 15 hours of free funding for 3 and 4 year olds. Similarly, the work situation of the child’s parent or guardian is not a factor.

The child is eligible until either they start primary school (usually in the September term following their 4th birthday) or until they reach the compulsory age for school if that’s later.
It’s important to note that the Government funding does not usually cover extra things like nappies, food and the cost of any trips.

How to apply

Leaps & Bounds Day Nursery is an approved childcare setting, so let us know if you require ’15 hours childcare funding’ per week for your three or four year old child. We can then assist you with your application. Also let us know if you’d prefer to stretch the 570 total hours over more weeks of the year and we’ll do our best to accommodate you.

30 hours of free childcare funding

How it works

Some 3-4 year old children are also eligible for an extra 15 hours of free childcare funding each week. This brings the total to 30 Government funded hours per week for those children, making 1140 hours over the course of the year (based on 38 weeks). As with the 15 hours funding, this can be spread out in a different way if that’s practical. For example, it could be taken as less than 30 hours per week but stretched out over a greater number of weeks in the year if preferred.

You are usually eligible for 30 hours of childcare funding even if you are already claiming Universal Credit, Tax Credits, Childcare Vouchers or Tax-Free Childcare.

Eligibility:

Eligibility generally depends four key factors:

  • Whether you are working;
  • How much you are earning;
  • Your child’s circumstances;
  • Your nationality.

If you are in work, you are usually eligible if you (and your partner, if applicable) are on sick or annual leave, or on parental, maternity, paternity or adoption leave. Note that you cannot claim funding for any child that you are on parental leave for.

If you are not in work, you can usually apply if you’re due to start/re-start working within 31 days of the application. Also, if your partner is still in work while you are receiving Incapacity Benefit, Severe Disablement Allowance, Carer’s Allowance or Employment & Support Allowance, you may still apply.

With regard to your earnings (whether working as a single parent or part of a couple that both work), in order to remain eligible:

  • You, and your spouse or partner if you have one living with you¹, must expect to earn at least the weekly equivalent of 16 hours per week at the National Living Wage or Minimum Wage over the coming quarter. (That’s unless you are self-employed if you became so less than a year ago).
  • Neither of you will earn an Adjusted Net Income* of more than £100,000, including any bonuses, in the current tax year.
    * ‘Adjusted Net Income’ is your total taxable income before personal allowances less adjustments for things like Gift Aid.
    ¹ If your partner does not live in your household for more than 6 months of the year, or if they are in prison, their employment and income will not affect your eligibility.

With regard to your child’s circumstances, you will not be eligible for 30 hour childcare funding if your child doesn’t usually live with you. There are also different application mechanisms for foster parents, who will need to apply through their local authority or social worker.

When it comes to nationality, parents or their partners will be potentially eligible for 30 hour funding if they are from the UK or EEA (European Economic Area). Parents from outside the EEA would require a UK residence card that states that they can access public UK funds.

How & when to apply

Parents can apply for 30 hours childcare funding once their child reaches the age of 2 years and 36 months (that’s just over 2 years and 8 months of age). When they actually start depends upon when they reach the age of 3. Below, we include some application date guidelines which, if followed, usually ensure that parents receive their approval code in time:

  • If your child reaches the age of 3 between September and December, then the recommended time to apply for 30 hours funding is between mid October and the end of November that year. If successful, they will then be able to start in the January term.
  • If they turn 3 between January and March, then the recommended time to apply is between mid January and the end of February. If successful, they will then be able to start in the April term.
  • If they turn 3 between April and August, then the recommended time to apply is between mid June and the end of July. If successful, they will then be able to start in the September term.

Note that parents need to re-confirm their eligibility each and every quarter.

You can apply here but note that there can only be one account and application per child. Duplications (e.g. from a partner, ex-partner or additional claim) will be rejected.

Looking for free childcare funding for 2 year olds?

Do you have a child under three that needs childcare services? We wrote a detailed article about free childcare funding for 2 year olds too (click to learn more).

Further information

To discuss funding options or anything to do with childcare services, contact the staff at Leaps & Bounds Day Nursery. Please call 0121 246 4922 or email and we’ll be happy to help. We are a nursery and pre-school based in Edgbaston, very close to Harborne, Ladywood, Bearwood and Smethwick near Birmingham, B16.

 

Free childcare funding for 2 year olds

Parents of very young children may have heard of free childcare funding for 2 year olds. However, exactly how many funded hours are available for 2 year olds? How does it work? How do you apply for the funding and what exactly is on offer? Also, is the funding still available during the Coronavirus outbreak? This article is here to explain virtually everything you need to know about free/funded hours for childcare, specifically for 2 year olds. Take a few moments and we’ll cover the key points for you.

We’ll limit this article to the rules for only UK residents who require childcare for 2 year olds in England, seeing as that’s where our customer base and nursery are located. (We are a nursery and pre-school in Edgbaston, near Birmingham). We cover funding rules for 3 and 4 year old children in a separate article.

Free early years education or childcare funding for 2 year olds

Firstly, it’s important to know that the number of free/funded hours available for early years childcare largely depends on the age of the child concerned. In a nutshell, 2 year olds may be eligible for up to up to 15 hours of free childcare/early education per week. Eligibility depends on a variety of additional factors, as we’ll see.

Eligible children aged two years of age are entitled to up to 570 hours of free childcare or early education per year. This is usually taken as 15 hours per week spread over 38 weeks of the year. However, exactly how it’s taken can be flexible in reality. In order to be eligible, the child must fall into a qualifying category of ‘additional needs’. Alternatively, the parent(s) must be in receipt of a qualifying benefit.

Qualifying benefits

Those who receive the following benefits may be eligible: income-related JSA (Jobseeker’s Allowance); income-related ESA (Employment & Support Allowance); Income Support; Universal Credit (for low parent/partner income e.g. if it’s less than £15,400 per annum after tax); Tax Credits (for low family income e.g. if it’s less than £16,190 before tax); State Pension Credit (the guaranteed part); Working Tax Credit ‘4 week run-on‘ payments that are received after eligibility for Working Tax Credit has ceased; and finally support via ‘Part 6’ of the Immigration & Asylum Act. (That’s typically where a parent is claiming asylum but has not yet received a decision).

What if you later stop receiving benefits?

What happens if your 2 year old is already receiving 15 hours of free childcare/early education but you later stop being eligible to receive the relevant benefits above? Your child will usually continue to receive free childcare, despite the change in your circumstances.

Other categories for eligibility

Those who don’t qualify for the benefits above may still qualify if: the child is being looked after by the council; they’re in receipt of Disability Living Allowance (‘DLA’); they have a statement of Special Education Needs (‘SEN’); they have an Education, Health & Care Plan (‘EHC’); or they are no longer in living in care, having left under a Child Arrangements or Adoption Order or Special Guardianship Order.

When can you apply for free childcare funding for 2 year olds?

You can apply for free childcare/early education for your 2 year old during the term in which they first reach the age of 2. However, your child will need to wait until the start of the following term before they can actually attend. In practice, therefore, this usually means that your 2 year old can start attending from 1st of January/April/September following their 2nd birthday.

Who receives the actual funds?

The Government funding for 2 year olds goes directly from the local council to the setting, not to the parent or child. You will need to sign a form, which is usually supplied by the childcare provider.

The Government’s childcare/early years funding does not cover additional items like meals, nappies and suchlike. So, it’s important to check whether this is included at your nursery or early years education setting.

Can those on NRPF visas receive childcare funding?

Some parents or primary carers may fall into category where, on the face of it, they are not eligible for any of the benefits above. One common example is when they are subject to immigration control. Here, they may be claiming asylum but have not yet received a decision. However, if they are on what’s known as an NRPF visa (a ‘no recourse to public funds’ visa), they may still be eligible for funding for 2 year olds in certain cases.

How do you apply for 2 year old childcare funding?

It would be wise to contact Leaps & Bounds Day Nursery to discuss your potential application in the first instance. Funding will come from the Government, but will be filtered down via your local council. You can make your application via HM Government’s ‘Childcare Choices’ portal.

Is funding for 2 year olds impacted by Coronavirus/COVID-19?

Encouragingly, the Government has announced that free funding for 2 year olds will continue to be available despite nursery closures (from Friday 20th March for most*) caused by the Coronavirus outbreak. (More info). Gavin Williamson, the Education Secretary, said,

“… we will continue to pay for all free early years entitlements places, even in the event that settings are closed on the advice of Public Health England, or children are not able to attend due to coronavirus“.

*Schools, colleges and nurseries (including Leaps & Bounds) will close from Friday 20th, until otherwise directed by the Government. That’s except for children of key workers, such as NHS staff and emergency workers, and vulnerable children. (More info). We’ll publish more details on this topic in the next few hours.

Looking for free childcare funding for 3-4 year olds?

Do you have a child aged three or four that requires childcare services? We wrote a detailed article about free childcare funding for 3 & 4 year olds here (click to learn more).

Contact us for further information

To discuss any of the above with the staff at Leaps & Bounds Day Nursery in Edgbaston, Birmingham, please call 0121 246 4922 or .