Entries by Mark

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Treetops Nursery’s Wonderful Outside Spaces & Play Areas

Treetops Nursery's Wonderful Outside Spaces & Play Areas

In recent years, Treetops Nursery in Willesden has had literally hundreds of thousands of pounds spent on it to vastly improve both the setting and its facilities. Starting as far back as 2007-2008, architects were commissioned to design, build and improve upon the existing childcare facilities that existed prior to that date. The work then included internal remodelling, the addition of extra spaOur sandpit is always very popular with the childrence for babies and young children and generally an improvement all around. A new block was added to house a community area and crèche together with several break-out spaces. An enormous canopy, that has been of huge benefit to the nursery, was also added. With that addition, children can now play outside and keep dry even when it’s raining. Similarly, the bicycle and buggy area and the route from the adjacent King Edward’s Park to the nursery were also each given coverings, so that children and staff could be given some shelter in all weather conditions outside. At the same time, the front entrance was totally redesigned and the reception area enhanced and remodelled. This now represents a wonderful checkpoint where staff can monitor and manage the comings and goings of everyone entering or exiting the building, to keep children safe.

Some of the activities, facilities, toys & equipment

Even in recent months, significant investment has been made to outdoor areas including equipment, toys, finishes, boundaries, resources for the children and lots of interactive activities. Some of the outdoor equipment includes

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Microgreens: Fun, Nutritious, Food Growing for Little Ones

Microgreens: fun, nutritious, food growing for little ones

There are now microgreen farmsThere is one class of edible plant that can be grown all year round and is perfect for kids to grow indoors, for example on a windowsill. Some types of this food will sprout in as little as a week. What’s more, it’s tasty and highly nutritious. Growing it is super-easy and a perfect way to keep kids entertained, educated about nature and eating healthily. It’ll also be a welcome addition to mealtimes for the whole household.

Growing Microgreens

We’re talking about Microgreens (also referred to as micro leaves). These are the early, edible, sprouting leaves of very young herbs, leafy greens and some root vegetables that might usually be thought of in a larger, more mature form. The tender new leaves are cut just days after they first sprout and can be made into wonderful salads, garnishes or meal accompaniments. They also bring some very tasty flavours to mealtimes. The young micro leaves are full of vitamins and minerals, look fantastic on the plate and will grow back time and time again after snipping. The secret is simply to harvest the immature micro leaves and to stop them from growing to full size. Just harvest … re-harvest … and re-harvest.

“Micro leaves are usually eaten fresh and raw, and the fresher the leaves are, the more vitamins and minerals they contain. Each little leaf is a gold mine of vitamins, antioxidants and minerals such as iron, folic acid and potassium.” (Gardeners World)

Various microgreen leaves sproutingHere are just a few examples of plants that make suitable microgreens and can easily be grown by children indoors:

  • Basil — their tasty baby leaves are full of flavour and can be harvested just ten days after seed planting. They’re wonderful on salads, pizzas and can even be made into pesto sauce.
  • Coriander — their tiny, delicate leaves pack a unique and punchy flavour that’s perfect with salads, stir-fries, chopped onions and curries. They can be harvested a couple of weeks after sowing the seeds.
  • Rocket — ready to harvest just a week after first sowing, rocket microgreens are another flavoursome and slightly peppery leaf to add to salads and put onto pizzas. Very tasty!
  • Mustard leaves — these may not be to every child’s taste, but many adults will enjoy the slight heat they’ll bring to salads, stir fries and Eastern dishes. Ready to first harvest in 1 to 2 weeks.
  • Salad with microgreensFennel — just 10 days after first sprouting, leaves from young fennel seedlings will give a pleasant aniseed tang to dishes like pasta salads, risottos, soups and even stuffing.
  • Beetroot leaves — the sprouting microgreen leaves from the beetroot take just ten days to appear after sowing. With their rich green leaves and red stems, they look wonderful in salads and lend their mild, earthy flavour to garnishes for some fish dishes.
  • Radish leaves — in just a week, the young, fiery leaves from the radish seedlings will be ready to snip and add to salads, stir fries and sandwiches. For some, their microgreen leaves are even tastier than the traditional root.
  • Spinach — tender leaves from young spinach plants can be harvested in ten days or so. They’re really good for you too. With their mild flavour, they’re a perfect addition to leafy salads, risottos, pastas and noodles.
  • Broccoli leaves — these will be ready to first harvest in just a week and have quite a different flavour than their fully-grown counterpart. With their slightly spicy taste, they’re also great in salads, risottos and omelettes.
  • Red cabbage microgreens are packed with nutrientsRed Cabbage micro leaves have one of the highest Vitamin C concentrations of any microgreen. They also contain Vitamin K, potassium, beta-carotene, calcium, magnesium and antioxidants. As with many of the microgreens, many top chefs use them as an attractive and tasty garnish. They can be sprinkled over soups, salads, grilled vegetables, stews and cooked meats. After sowing, they take only days to appear.

How children can grow microgreens at home

Your children will need very little to get started. You’ll need …

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FREE Childcare for 3 & 4-Year-Olds – A Complete Guide

FREE childcare funding for 3 & 4-year-olds: A complete guide

In our last post, we published a complete guide to free childcare for 2-year-olds in England. Now it’s time to look at the free childcare funding available for 3 and 4-year-old children. With up to 30 hours of free childcare available in this age group, this represents a great opportunity for parents or guardians to continue with their careers and boost household income, particularly following maternity or paternity leave. It’s also wonderful for the children, who will naturally benefit from early years education and be better prepared for school when the time comes at age 5.

So, how does the 30 hours of free childcare funding work, and who is eligible?

How 15-30 hours of free childcare funding works

Guide to how the free funding available for three and four year olds works

This is funding that comes from the Government, via local councils, to pay for childcare at nurseries, pre-schools and similar approved childcare providers. The funding goes direct to the childcare settings or providers, not to the parents or guardians of the children. There are two possible halves — 15 hours of free childcare and an additional 15 hours on top of that, potentially taking the total available up to 30 hours of free childcare for each child.

The first 15 hours of free childcare

The first 15 hours of free childcare for 3 and 4-year-olds in England is very straight forward. In essence, all 3- and 4-year-olds in England are entitled to the 15 hours of funding for childcare each week. Well, to be more precise, the scheme allows for 15 hours per week spread out over 38 weeks in any one year. That’s a total maximum of 570 hours a year. However, so long as the total hours in any given year does not exceed 570, some childcare settings will allow parents or carers to spread the free childcare out over a different number of weeks, simply by adjusting the number of hours used during each of those weeks appropriately.

Eligibility for 15 hours of childcare funding:

  • All 3- and 4-year-olds living in England are eligible (and there are also similar schemes in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland).
  • The free childcare funding can only be used in conjunction with approved childcare settings and providers. Treetops Nursery in Willesden is one such approved nursery.
  • The children are eligible from the term* following their 3rd birthday, until they reach compulsory school age or start Reception Year at school.
    * (Terms usually start in early January, April or September).
  • The 15 hours of funding is not means-tested, nor is it related to whether or not the parent or guardian is working or unemployed etc.
  • The Government funding does not include food and consumables (nappies, sun cream etc.), so you will need to check this with your individual childcare provider.

30 hours of free childcare

Up to 1140 hours of free childcare per year are potentially available

30 hours of free childcare funding is also available for eligible families. However, it includes the first 15 hours explained above, plus a possible additional 15 hours per week, when eligible. This takes the total amount of free childcare available to a possible maximum of 1140 hours per year, or 30 hours per week spread out over 38 weeks. As with the first ‘15 hours’ scenario, some childcare providers allow it to be spread out over more of the year, so long as the number of hours per week is reduced accordingly. And, as before, the free childcare funding can only be used with approved childcare providers like Treetops Nursery, Willesden.

Eligibility for 30 hours of childcare funding:

You and your partner, if you have one …

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FREE Childcare for 2-Year-Olds – A Complete Guide

FREE Childcare for 2-Year-Olds – A Complete Guide

2 year old playing with bubblesHave you heard about the free childcare funding that’s available for eligible 2-year-olds? Do you want to learn more? If you are a parent who is looking to work, or perhaps to get back into work after starting a family, then this could be a perfect solution for you and your toddler. Under a Government scheme, approved nurseries, pre-schools and childcare providers in England can supply up to 15 hours per week of childcare for eligible 2-year-olds. It’s an absolute no-brainer, so we thought we’d put together this comprehensive guide to tell you everything you need to know.

The benefits of free childcare for 2-year-olds

Free childcare hours will be a great help to families:

  • It will help those on maternity or paternity leave to re-enter the workplace more easily, knowing that their young child is being cared for in a safe and secure environment.
  • For up to 15 hours a week, the childcare will be funded by the Government, free of charge, enabling families to boost household income and quality of life.
  • The 2-year-olds benefit greatly as it allows them to make an early start on their education and development. They can prepare for school for around three years and hit the ground running there when they reach the age of five.

A Department of Education study showed that children who start early education no later than the age of two will have long-term benefits including enhanced abilities, better confidence and improved social skills, to name just a few. Studies also show that even their lifetime outcomes and future employment potential are improved if they started early years education and care by the age of 2. The greatest benefits were seen by those children receiving at least 10 hours per week. So, with 15 free hours a week on offer for free, it’s something that every parent in England should at least consider.

How it works

2 year old girl at nursery

It’s quite straight forward. First, it’s wise to do a rough check to see whether you/your child is likely to be eligible (see the next section below for that). If it looks like you are eligible, you can apply for the funding via a Government website – more about that later. If you are approved, your child can begin free childcare from an approved childcare provider (… such as Treetops Nursery in Willesden). The Government will pay the cost of the childcare, up to 15 hours per week for 2-year-olds, direct to the childcare provider. Your child can begin receiving the childcare in the year in which they reach the age of 2. Which term they start in depends upon the month of their birthday so, in real terms, they usually begin on, or soon after, the 1st of January, 1st of April or 1st of September.

Eligible 2-year-olds can receive up to 570 hours of free childcare over the course of a year. Usually that is taken as 15 hours per week over 38 weeks. However, some childcare providers allow it to be a little more flexible with, perhaps, less hours per week but over more weeks of the year, so long as the total is no more than 570 hours overall.

Eligibility requirements for free childcare funding for 2-year-olds

In order to be eligible for the free childcare funding, either

  1. the parent(s) need to be receiving one or more of the requisite ‘qualifying benefits’ or
  2. the 2-year-old must fall into a qualifying ‘additional needs’ category.

We’ll explain more about each one …

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Boost Your Child’s Language Skills by 20% Through Reading

Boost Your Child's Language Skills by 20% Through Reading

Parent reading with toddlerBack in July, we wrote a detailed article about the importance of parental involvement in the education of children. One critically important element of that is parents or carers actively reading with their children. Indeed, parent-child reading has been proposed as a possible solution to the performance deficit often experienced by children from lower socio-economic backgrounds (through no fault of their own). That makes parent-child reading incredibly important as a way of evening up the playing field and ensuring that pre-school children are completely prepared when the time comes to move to school and beyond. If not, research shows that they are likely to do worse at school and go on to have poorer life outcomes generally.

The research is compelling

A study funded by the Nuffield Foundation, whose mission is to advance educational opportunity and social wellbeing, looked at the impact of adult-child reading from data gathered over 40 years. The results are frankly astounding.

“Reading with pre-school children boosts language skills by eight months.”

TFamily reading a book togetherhat’s incredible when you bear in mind that the children studied were, on average, just 3¼ years old. An 8 month skills boost is therefore equivalent to an extra fifth of their entire lives! Such an impact, at a time when they’re right in the middle of their pre-school years, is incredibly important for them. After all, this is a critical time in their learning and development — and one that will have a profound impact on the rest of their lives.

Reading with children is the key

You may have noticed that we said reading with children, rather than to them. It makes sense to involve the children in the reading process, so they learn from parents/carers and pick up little nuggets of information and know-how as they progress, together, through each book. For example, parents can

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Fighting Food Fussiness in Under-5s

Fighting food fussiness in under-5s. How to encourage toddlers to eat

Many parents will be all-too-familiar with how fussy toddlers can be when it comes to food. Some children will even avoid certain foods, absolutely refusing to try them, based solely on how they look. This can be infuriating! In the extreme, it can also potentially pose a risk to the healthy balance of a child’s diet.

Give peas a chance!

Many adults, myself included, will recall that we were just the same at some point during childhood. Later on, we may realise how delicious something really is, even if we thought we didn’t like it when we were young. I recall believing that peas were incredibly dull and should be avoided at all costs, for example. I now believe them to be amongst the tastiest vegetables on the planet! Nothing material has really changed about peas, so it’s my perception of them that has changed; I simply needed to give them a chance.

Acquired tastes

Other foods can become an ‘acquired taste’. For example, many youngsters initially perceive olives as being quite disgusting. Later on as adults, however, many of the same people end up adoring them. Sometimes, it’s just a case of mentioning this weird facet of human nature to your toddler. Trying to reason – and empathise – with them in this way may well register with them eventually. Despite appearances, children often take such messages in, even though they might refuse some foods, point blank, at first. This eventual acceptance often gradually occurs as they become more mature in mind as well as in body.

Food refusal is normal, so don’t stress

Is your toddler a fussy eater?If your child’s refusal to eat certain foods is making you stressed, take a moment to realise that this is perfectly normal. Indeed, many toddlers go through such a phase in their earliest years. If they’ve recently been breastfeeding, they will have become accustomed to a sweet-tasting diet. When they are weaned onto solids and suddenly become mobile, it’s natural for them to be wary of eating just anything — it’s so new to them. In fact, refusing some foods is an instinctive survival mechanism. It’ll take time for them to become accustomed to new tastes and textures.

If your child gives you a resounding no, try, try and try again.

What’s more, it’s known that it can take about 10 to 15 instances of exposure to a particular food before many young children will accept it. So, if your child gives you a resounding no, it’s really best for both of you to try, try and try again. After all, it would be such a shame for them to miss out on something delicious and nutritional for the rest of their lives.

What else can parents do?

As well as the straight forward perseverance approach outlined above, there are a number of things that parents and carers can do to encourage preschoolers to eat a more varied diet and to give new food types a try …

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EVERY Parent Should Read This

Every parent should read this
Parental involvement in a child's early years educationResearch has repeatedly proved that parents have an enormous impact on their children’s education, particularly if they’re involved right from the early years. That impact can be hugely positive if the parents get it right. In this article, we explore the many benefits of parental involvement in children’s education, how parents can support their children from nursery to university, improve their success, maximise their personal and career potentials and thereby give children the very best start in life. That is priceless.

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

The positive impact of parental help for children cannot be overstated. A well-supported child will go on to get better grades and ultimately be eligible for wider, higher quality, career choices once they’re older and ready to leave education. So the message is: if you’re a parent that wants your child to do as well as possible in their education and development, then your child needs your support. Be ready for the long-haul, though, because they will need your support at nursery, throughout their school years and even into higher education.

Research¹ has shown that parents can help improve their child’s development and education irrespective of: how well they did at school themselves; their socioeconomic status and ethnic/racial background.

What are the benefits of closer parental involvement?

As we mentioned above, parental involvement in a child’s development and education can ultimately lead to better results in school and enhanced life choices later on. That’s just the tip of the ice berg, though. Benefits for the child include

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Follow Treetops Nursery on Social Media — for the Latest Information

Follow Treetops Nursery on social media

The eagle-eyed among you will have noticed that we’ve got a sparkling new website. It’s user-friendly, works nicely on mobile phones and it’s going to be much easier for us to keep up to date. That means that we can keep you better informed — great news! Our plan is to publish several high quality articles on the new blog area each and every month. We’ll keep our new social media channels up to date with information, images, nursery- and early years-related news too. We’re now on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest and Google Business (our profile links are below).

We can keep you better informed

Treetops Nursery is on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram & Google Business

With a view to that, we’d like to invite you to follow us on social media and to regularly visit our news blog. By doing so, you’ll be able to keep up to date with the nursery and childcare in general. Parents across the UK should find the information we’ll publish very useful even if they don’t have children at our Willesden nursery. Our plan is to write and publish some extremely useful articles that’ll appeal to a wide audience of parents, wherever they are. This will include comprehensive guides to topics like childcare funding in the UK, ‘evergreen’ articles about education for babies and toddlers, parenting, the curriculum, activities and all manner of useful, original and informative content. If this sounds of interest, please follow us:

Social media profiles for Treetops Nursery, Willesden

We’d love a review, recommendation or feedback

Reviews are incredibly important to small businesses like ours, and a little goes a long way. So, if you’re on Facebook or Google, we’d love it if you could leave a nice review or recommendation for Treetops Nursery please. It’s wonderful to hear

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Social Distancing & Anti-Virus Measures at Treetops Nursery

Social Distancing and Anti-Virus Measures at the Nursery
At our Willesden nursery and pre-school, and other nurseries within our group, we looked after children of key workers during the lock-down. This all went very well indeed and we’re very happy to report that there was not a single case of COVID-19 within any of the nurseries, their staff, children, babies or immediate families. This is a testament to the safeguarding measures put in place and also to everyone following the advice of the nurseries, NHS and Government. Thanks to everyone for taking such good care — it worked!

The nursery has re-opened!

We’re very pleased to announce that Treetops Nursery has now re-opened, so we’re welcoming existing families back at the same time as inviting new children who need a safe childcare place in the Willesden area of NW10.

How are we protecting children from COVID-19?

Now that we’re emerging from the lock-down, it’s more important than ever to exercise social distancing, cleanliness and best practise measures to keep everyone safe and well going forwards. With more people now mixing again, this is more important than ever. With that in mind, we have introduced leading-edge measures to safeguard everyone attending the nursery and preschool. With our owners having medical backgrounds, we are uniquely positioned to ensure that these are the best safeguarding measures possible. They also go far beyond Government and NHS guidelines. So, the message is:

We have incredibly strong measures to keep babies & children safe from C-19

So what are the new health and safety measures? While the following is not an exhaustive list, it’ll give you an insight into the kind of protocols we’re putting in place at the setting …

What are our anti-virus safety measures at the nursery?

It’s an absolute given that we’re practising social distancing at the nursery. We’ve taken this several steps further, though, to absolutely minimise any risks: