Duckling Hatching Experience at Treetops Nursery
Duckling hatching guidelinesYou know both Spring and Easter have arrived when eggs and fluffy, new-born ducklings can be seen at Treetops Nursery. To explain, the nursery took delivery of a duckling ‘hatching kit’ in late March and children at this Willesden nursery have had an absolutely magical time ever since. Over the course of ten days, the children and staff watched as the little duck eggs were incubated, using specialist equipment, right in the heart of the nursery. After just a few hours, fluffy yellow ducklings had hatched, much to the delight of everyone who saw them. More details follow below …

Background — Incredible Eggs

Let’s start at the beginning. A group of 7 small, family-run farms runs a programme called Incredible Eggs. It provides education in the form of chick-hatching experiences for settings like childcare nurseries, schools and care homes across the UK. As part of this, it helps with wildlife conservation too, breeding several rare and pure poultry breeds to safeguard biodiversity and avoid losing some of the breeds forever.A duckling being cared for by a child at Treetops Nursery This also includes breeding and releasing the endangered ‘Grey Partridge’ back into the wild as part of the overall programme. Incredible Eggs also supports several charities and social enterprises. Animal welfare is a top priority and the programme aims to give every bird “a good life, and a life worth living.

The Hatching Experience at Treetops Nursery

The team from Incredible Eggs arrived at the nursery, bringing with them all the equipment we would need, along with the precious duck eggs, of course. They professionally set up the equipment for us and explained to nursery staff everything we needed to know for the days ahead. Printed hatching guides, information sheets, posters and instructions were all supplied, so staff were fully briefed as to what to expect and what they would need to do to ensure the welfare, safety and health of the new arrivals once they came.

One of the delightful ducklingsThe Little Miracles Arrived

The eggs had already been partly incubated while at the farm, so in no time at all, tiny ‘cheeping’ noises could be heard from the eggs as they began pecking away at the egg shells, from the inside. It was absolutely magical for the nursery children and staff to witness the little ducklings gradually break free and enter the world for the first time.

A Magical Experience for Children & Staff

Children enjoying the magical experience with the ducklings

Once hatched, the ducklings were gently moved into a ‘brooding’ unit, a lovely warm area where they could dry out, gather their strength and rest for a couple of days. They settled in comfortably and were cared for, fed and watered by knowledgeable staff — all under the watchful eye of the delighted children. Once they were strong enough and adorning their beautifully soft, fluffy yellow plumage, the nursery children were allowed to gently handle the ducklings under close, adult supervision, of course. The children were told to stay calm and quiet and to avoid sudden movements, so as not to scare the ducklings. It was a dream come true for many children and their delight was clear to see. They loved seeing the ducklings learning to eat and drink in their lovely warm brooding unit. It was also fun to see them get excited when staff or children gently scratched around at their food, making them run over to peck it.

Ducklings can swim just a couple of days after hatchingOne of the joys of having ducklings this time (the nursery had hen chicks a couple of years ago) was that ducklings absolutely love swimming! Containers of water or a paddling pool can be set up and ducklings are able to take to the water within just a couple of days of hatching. It’s great fun to watch them learn to dive and to dart around — and it’s super cute!

An Educational Experience

As well as getting to know the beautiful little creatures, the hatching experience was an educational one, touching on several areas of the EYFS curriculum. This includes, primarily, the key area of Understanding the World including learning about nature, living creatures, life and the world around the children. Learning about how animals come into the world and about how they all have their own individual needs and feelings is incredibly important.The ducklings are as cute as can be! So the hatching experience also teaches children respect for nature and may even grow a long-term love of nature and the natural world within them.

“If children grow up not knowing about nature and appreciating it, they will not understand it, and if they don’t understand it, they won’t protect it, and if they don’t protect it, who will?” (Sir David Attenborough)

Returning Ducklings to the Farm

It will be sad to say goodbye to the adorable ducklingsOn April 1st, the ducklings will leave Treetops Nursery and go to live back at the farm. It will be very sad to see them go, but it was always a part of the plan and, in any case, the farm is set up to care for them very well as they grow into adulthood. Looking after any creature is a huge responsibility, so it’s good to know that the ducklings will be in just the right environment and will be cared for by professionals. The nursery looks forward, however, to next year, when we hope to do it all over again and watch with the children as more magical lives begin.

A Place for your Baby or Child at our Nursery in Willesden

Are you interested in nursery places for babies and children in Willesden, or near Willesden Green, Kensal Green or Harlesden? If so, Treetops Nursery may be able to help. We’re a high quality childcare setting in Willesden, London NW10 and would be happy to discuss a possible place for your child here, while a few spaces remain available. If this is of potential interest, please contact us using one of the buttons below:

Child Benefit in England – A Quick Guide

A childcare setting in EnglandIf you are living in England and are bringing up one or more children there, you are usually eligible to receive Child Benefit. This is a payment made by the Government to help with the costs associated with bringing up children. It’s made to those responsible for bringing up children up to 16 or, if they’re still in approved education or training, 20 years of age. This guide will go through the key facts around what you’re entitled to and eligibility.

How Much Do You Get?

If eligible, the Government will pay £21.05 per week for the eldest child and £13.95 per week for each additional child. (Latest information suggests this will increase to £21.15 and £14.00 respectively for 2021/22, from April). It’s usually paid on Mondays or Tuesdays every four weeks, although single parents with certain other benefits may apply for weekly payments instead. Payments need to be paid into a single bank account and only one person can receive them.

There isn’t a limit on the number of children that you can claim for. However ….

Beware the ‘Benefit Cap’

Receiving Child Benefit will not directly reduce the amount of any other benefits that you receive from the Government. It’s important to bear in mind, though, that the total amount of Government benefits, including Child Benefit, are limited by what’s known as the Benefit Cap. Broadly speaking, this limits the amount of total benefits received to an absolute maximum of £23k a year inside Greater London and £20k per annum outside, although single parents who do not live with their children are eligible for a maximum of £15.41k and £13.4k in those two respective areas (correct as at time of writing, February 2021). The Government’s Benefits Cap Calculator will help clarify your own particular situation.

There are additional benefits of applying for Chilld BenefitAdditional Benefits of Child Benefit

  • Child Benefit payments allow you to receive National Insurance Credits and these count towards your State Pension. This is particularly important for those who are not working.
  • Claiming Child Benefit also means that your child will get their National Insurance Number automatically once they reach 16, rather than having to apply.

Noteworthy Considerations

  • You need to register the birth of your child before a claim can be made.
  • Your claim can be backdated by up to 3 months, so it makes sense to claim as soon as possible or you could miss out.
  • If you work or have savings it does not affect eligibility to claim for Child Benefit.
  • If you live as a couple and one of you is not working, it may be best for the responsible parent who is not working to make the claim. This is so that they continue to build up their National Insurance contributions. These will count towards their State Pension when they retire.
  • If you are not living with your partner but are both responsible for bringing up your child(ren), then you’ll need to decide among yourselves who will put in the claim. Usually this is the person who lives most with the child(ren) in question.
  • However, where there is a dispute about who should claim, you can both claim and then HMRC will decide who to pay the Child Benefit to. Again, though, the benefit is usually awarded to the person who lives with the child the most, although there are exceptions as the rules are complex.
  • Those earning £50k or more (before tax) can still claim but will need to pay what’s known as a High Income Child Benefit Tax Charge. If they’re living with their partner, the person earning the most is the one who will need to pay the charge, irrespective of who is making the claim.
  • The High Income Child Benefit Tax Charge increases as earnings increase above £50k. Once they reach £60k the charge is likely to outweigh the benefit itself. In such circumstances you can elect not to claim or, if one isn’t working, then they could fill the claim form in anyway, so they receive the aforementioned National Insurance Contributions towards their State Pension. A box can be ticked if they elect not to claim the Child Benefit itself and this will stop the high-earning partner from paying the charge.

There are some reasons why you may not be eligibleReasons You May Not Be Eligible

There are a number of scenarios in which you are not eligible for Child Benefit in England. These include:

  • if your child has been in residential care or in hospital for more than 12 weeks (unless you’re still spending out on their needs);
  • if a local authority has been looking after your child for the last 8 weeks;
  • if your child has been in custody or prison within the last 8 weeks;
  • if your child is married or living in a civil partnership although exceptions apply if they’re not living together or if their partner is in full-time education or training;
  • if your child is in receipt of any of the following: Universal Credit, income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance, Income Support, Employment and Support Allowance or tax credits;
  • if you are living abroad, although there are some rare exceptions (rules are complex).

How to Start Your Child Benefit Claim

Claim your Child Benefit here using the appropriate form. You may also need to download Acrobat Reader from the same page if you don’t already have it. Choose form ‘CH2’ (paper and electronic versions available) for your first two children, or form ‘CH2(CS)’ if you’re claiming for more than two. If sending important documents like birth certificates through the post as part of your application, ensure you save copies and also ask Royal Mail for a ‘proof of postage’.

Allow 3 months before you receive your first payment. This may also include any backdated amounts covering up to a maximum of 3 months before your application if your child is up to 3 months old at the time you applied.

High quality childcare is available at Treetops Nursery in Willesden, near Harlesden, NW10Childcare in Willesden, near Willesden Green, Harlesden & Kensal Green, NW10

Bringing up children costs money so it’s good that an array of Government support is available. As well as Child Benefit, the Government also offers free ‘childcare hours’ and many employers offer childcare vouchers. Treetops Nursery in Willesden supports the Government’s childcare schemes including 15 hours of free childcare for eligible 2-year-olds and 15 to 30 hours of free childcare for eligible 3- and 4-year-olds per week, as appropriate. We also accept virtually all childcare vouchers at the nursery.

A Nursery Place for Your Child

Get in touch if you are interested in your child attending Treetops Nursery. We’re an outstanding, high quality nursery in Willesden, near Harlesden and Willesden Green in London NW10. Contact us while a few places are still available to avoid disappointment. We’ll be happy to help. Choose from the following options:

Is Your Child Getting Enough Sleep?

A good night’s sleep is essential for all of us. Without it, we struggle in the following days and are sure to perform less than optimally.

There are many adverse effects of too little sleepThe Adverse Effects of Too Little Sleep

The adverse effects of a poor night’s sleep are even more pronounced for under-fives and babies. As well as simply being tired, they can become emotional, grumpy, uncooperative and stressed. They might even be inclined to throw tantrums and to become a real danger to themselves. The distress they are feeling through lack of sleep is clear to see, even if they themselves don’t understand why they are feeling the way they do.

What’s also obvious is that they won’t be able to learn as effectively as they might otherwise have done. Attention spans, cognitive function, memory skills and levels of alertness are all known to suffer after a poor night’s sleep.

If poor sleep becomes a regular occurrence, there are also longer-term health risks that could become real concerns. Blood pressure, diabetes, weight, mental health and the release of natural growth and repair hormones can all suffer if children have regular sleep deficiency. So, sleep is incredibly important.

How Much Sleep do Children Need?

Babies and young children need far more sleep than adults. According to The American Academy of Sleep Medicine, they require the following:

Child’s AgeSleep Required (Per 24 Hours Including Naps)
4 months to 1 year of age12-16 hours
1 to 2 years of age11-14 hours
3 to 5 years of age10-13 hours

How to help your child get to sleepYou can see that they require a little less sleep as they grow progressively older.

How to Help Your Child Sleep Well

There are many reasons why babies and children may have trouble sleeping, but there’s quite a bit parents or carers can do to help. Here are some ideas that may help them to fall asleep and then to stay sleeping soundly. This is part of a wider approach to what’s known as Sleep Hygiene, which is the entire approach to bedtime, including the lead up to it.

Sleep Hygiene

One of the most effective ways any parent can help a child receive the right quality and quantity of sleep is to maintain a set routine around bedtime. If set times and rules are in place and always adhered to, then going to sleep at the right time will become virtually automatic. Children will physiologically and mentally adapt and then expect it, becoming tired and ready to sleep around the ‘right’ time. They will also be less inclined to ‘fight’ the rules when they have learned that they’re not negotiable. With some children it may take a while to get to this point, of course — but the bigger ‘sleep hygiene’ approach will ultimately help.

Winding Down Before Bedtime

A winding-down regime can be very useful to get very young children in the right mindset for bedtime. A warm bath or shower can be part of this, as can dimmed lights and perhaps a short bedtime story.

A quiet, comfortable bedroom set-up is neededA Peaceful, Quiet, Bedroom Set-up

The baby or child’s bedroom also needs to have the right set-up. They need to be comfortable and located in a quiet part of the house. Having them just a touch cool will also encourage the child to nestle down in the warmth of their bed. Often a favourite cuddly toy will also give them some comfort and the feeling of security.

A low level of lighting before bedtime is also a great idea. Once it’s time to sleep, total darkness is healthy for sleep although some children may sleep better when they can see the faint glimmer of a nightlight.

Distractions like nearby toys should be avoided, otherwise there’s a risk that the infant might begin to associate bedtime with playtime.

Avoid Stimulants

Handheld screens & TVs are not good for sleepStimulants should be avoided before bedtime. Drinks containing caffeine will keep children awake, so none should be given any time after lunch time, ideally. Caffeine can be found in some fizzy drinks and energy drinks, as well as in tea and coffee. Warm milk, in contrast, will be non-stimulating and actually quite soothing. Be careful not to give drinks too close to bedtime, though, and remember to get the child to visit the loo before going to bed, otherwise they may need to wake up in the night to pay a visit.

Screens also stimulate the brain. So, handheld devices like mobile phones and tablets, as well as TVs, should not be available to the child several hours before bedtime. Their blue light, in particular, will not be conducive to sleeping, due to its stimulating affect on the brain. (You can learn more about the possible health risks associated with giving children access to handheld screens in our enlightening post for our sister nursery over in Birmingham).

It’s useful to avoid vigorous exercise or play too close to bedtime. While exercise during the daytime, particularly in the fresh air, can help young children sleep later on, doing it too close to bedtime may simply awaken their brains and have the opposite effect.

Large meals close to bedtime can also have a detrimental affect on children’s sleep, so ensure that mealtimes are sufficiently early.

Avoid allowing children to get into bad habitsChildren Visiting in the Night

Many parents have experienced their child waking up in the night and coming into their bedroom for comfort. This must not be allowed to turn into a habit. Parents of children attempting to make this a regular occurrence should quietly — and without fuss — lead the child back to their bed and settle them in. Caving in to repeated attempts to end up in the parents’ bedroom (or even bed) will only lead to a bad habit forming. Such a habit would be detrimental to the sleep pattern of all concerned.

Sleeping at Treetops Nursery, Willesden

At Treetops Nursery, we’re well aware of the need for babies and children to get sufficient, high quality, sleep. For this reason, the children have a couple of sleeping sessions each day. From about 9:30am babies usually sleep for between half an hour and an hour. Then, between 12 noon and 3pm, there’s another sleeping session. The older pre-school children are given the choice whether to sleep or not during this time. Parents are encouraged to let us know if there are particular sleep patterns that they’d like us to follow for their baby or child. Every child is different, so we’re totally flexible.

A Nursery Place for Your Child in Willesden, London NW16

If you are looking for an outstanding nursery near Willesden Green, Harlesden and Kensal Green, we can help. Treetops Nursery is located in Doyle Gardens in Willesden, NW10. For further information …

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:

  • More of the excellent outdoor facilitiesa bike park with bicycles and buggies,
  • a water activity area,
  • a ‘music wall’ where children can explore sound and percussion,
  • a book reading zone,
  • a plant growing zone,
  • outdoor blackboards where children can write and draw in chalk,
  • sand pits, which are a huge hit with the children,
  • Children have access to natural materials to explore and learn fromball pits, which are always fun for kids,
  • rocking horses/animals,
  • colour and counting activities plus an ‘alphabet fence’,
  • slides and a timber ‘tree house’,
  • natural materials and textures to explore,
  • portable activity easels,
  • messy play activities (always popular with children!),
  • … and much more!

All these outdoor improvements have been an absolute godsend during the pandemic; the outside spaces have been used far more by the staff and children because they keep everyone naturally more socially distanced and the open air is more effective in the fight against the spread of COVID-19. All this is possible due to the wonderful set-up of the nursery, with outdoor areas available to enjoy, in comfort, in virtually all weathers — at any time of year.

Treetops Nursery in Willesden

Are you looking for high quality nurseries near to Willesden Green, Harlesden or Kensal Green? We’d love you to consider Treetops Nursery, in Willesden NW10, if so. Please get in touch for further details:

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 to buy them some packet seeds, which you can get at your local garden nursery or online. If you’re unsure who to order from online, Suttons are probably the best-known supplier and seed packets there seem to start from as little as just a pound or two. You can also find mixed seed packets. (If you’re on a really tight budget, you can alternatively take a look at the excellent post about growing food virtually free of cost, by our sister nursery in Streatham).

Along with the seeds, your child will need some multi-purpose or seed and cuttings compost (peat-free is more eco-friendly) and something to sow the seeds in. If you’re going to grow the microgreens on the windowsill, you could use flower pots, slim seed trays (perhaps left over from plants or herbs you have previously bought), containers, yoghurt pots with drainage holes pierced underneath, egg cartons, or even the cardboard cores from used kitchen rolls, cut down to a suitable size. Any of these will need something to sit in, to catch any draining water, for example a saucer or seed ‘drip tray’.

Lemonbalm micro leaves sprouting in compostYour child will need to fill the chosen containers with compost, not quite to the top. Tap it to level the soil, then pat it down just a little to firm it. Some gardeners also indent the compost where the seeds will go. The seeds then need to be carefully placed or lightly sprinkled into the indented areas. It’s important that your child spaces the seeds out so there is no clumping, otherwise significant problems can occur (the crop might get diseased or even completely fail). The seeds don’t need to be covered but a light dusting of sieved compost will keep them in place while allowing light to get through. The seeds then need to be lightly watered. It’s best for your child to do this part outside, just to avoid potential mess indoors, taking care not to over-water nor to wash the seeds away. A way to water them indoors is to simply stand the vessels in some shallow water for 30 to 60 minutes, so the compost naturally draws up the moisture.

The rest is also very easy. Your child simply needs to place the potted seeds on a light windowsill and ensure that the compost is always kept damp, taking care not to over-water. Also consider a label for each pot for identification purposes, particularly if several different seed types have been planted. Some people cover the seed pots or trays with a single sheet of kitchen towel, newspaper or even cling film to keep the moisture in while the seeds initially germinate. Your child will need to check under the covering every day. The moment little shoots can be seen, the covering will need to be removed, so long as the soil is kept moist thereafter, so it never dries out. Ensure the potted plants get full light and ventilation too. Within a week or two depending on the seeds chosen, the young shoots will grow baby leaves and can then be harvested. Snip them near their bases before mature leaves start to replace the baby leaves. If you want to benefit from them for longer, snip them like this rather than pulling up their roots, so they can sprout and re-sprout time and time again.

Eat & enjoy!

A sandwich with microgreens as a garnishOnce rinsed, the tender young micro leaves can be enjoyed in meals by the whole family. They’ll add often exquisite tastes and textures to meals as well as adding much-needed vitamins and minerals to the family diet. That’s even more important for growing toddlers and preschoolers, of course. And, throughout the growing journey, the children will absolutely love seeing the new shoots grow into young plants. They will have learnt new skills, had great fun getting to know more about nature and have a real sense of achievement. Chances are, too, that they will love the taste of the micro leaves.

Treetops Nursery in Willesden

We hope you and your family enjoyed this article and will have fun growing your very own microgreens. The post was brought to you by Treetops Day Nursery in Willesden, London NW10. We are a childcare nursery and pre-school, suitable for babies from 6 months and children up to 5 years of age. We’re also convenient for parents and carers who are looking for high quality weekday childcare near Willesden Green, Harlesden, Brent, Kensal Green, Brondesbury Park, Kilburn, Mapesbury, Dollis Hill, Church End, Roundwood, College Park and Park Royal. Please do get in touch if you’d like to learn more about a possible nursery place for your child.

For further details, contact Treetops Nursery:

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:

  • must be working¹;
  • must be earning¹ the equivalent of 16 hours per week, on average over the next 3 months, at the National Living Wage or National Minimum Wage²;
  • must not be earning £100,000¹ or more of net income in the current tax year, including any bonuses;
  • may usually still claim when on sick leave, annual leave or parental leave.

¹ Has your work or earning level been affected by the coronavirus pandemic? If so, there are some temporary and very welcome exceptions to the rules, which you can find out about here.

² Note that, if you’re self-employed, you can base your 3 month average on what you expect to earn during the current tax year if your earnings over the last 3 months are not sufficient.

You may be still be able to claim for 30 hours funding at the same time as:

  • Eligibility explainedclaiming Universal Credit, tax credits³ or Tax-Free Childcare;
  • receiving childcare vouchers;
  • claiming Incapacity Benefit, Severe Disablement Allowance, Carer’s Allowance or contribution-based Employment & Support Allowance — if you are not working but your partner is;
  • starting or re-starting work within 31 days of the application date.

³ Please note that, if you are receiving tax credits, getting 30 hours free childcare funding could affect how much tax credits you receive. Check here.

Reasons you may not be able to claim 30 hours childcare funding

You are unlikely to be eligible if:

  • your child doesn’t live with you;
  • you foster the child in question;
  • you’re from outside the European Economic Area (EEA) and you and your partner, if you have one, do not have access to public funds (according to your UK residence card);
  • someone else already claims Tax-Free Childcare for your child.

How to apply for 30 hours free childcare funding

Firstly, have your National Insurance number and, if you’re self-employed, your Unique Taxpayer Reference (UTR) ready. You’ll be applying via the ‘Government Gateway’ so if you have not accessed this before, you’ll also need to set up access to it for the first time. As part of that you’ll need to have your mobile phone or landline number ready, along with your UK passport and possibly details of any tax credits, your P60 or recent payslip.

If you are separated, only one of you can apply so, ideally, you’ll first need to agree which of you will be applying (if you can’t agree, apply separately and HMRC will decide who ends up with the ‘childcare account’).

If you have a partner living with you, you will need to include them in the application. However, eligibility will not be affected by their income or employment if they are in prison or are absent from the household for more than six months of the year.

Set aside about 20 minutes or so for the application (5 minutes longer if you have not accessed the Government Gateway before) and then you can start the application process here. You usually find out whether your application is successful within a week, sometimes straight away. If successful, you will receive a code that you can give to your childcare provider so that they can access the funding.

Free childcare funding at Treetops Nursery in Willesden, London NW10

30 hours free childcare is available at Treetops Nursery, Willesden

Treetops Nursery accepts both 15 hours and 30 hours of childcare funding for eligible families, spaces permitting. We’re a nursery and pre-school in Willesden in London NW10 so are also convenient for parents and guardians looking for high quality childcare at a nursery or pre-school near Willesden Green, Harlesden, Brent, Kensal Green, Brondesbury Park, Kilburn, Mapesbury, Dollis Hill, Church End, Roundwood, College Park and Park Royal.

For further details about Treetops Nursery:

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 …

1. The ‘qualifying benefits’

Little boy playing at pre-school

In order to qualify, the parent of the two-year-old must be in receipt of one of the following benefits:

  • Jobseeker’s Allowance (income-related);
  • Employment & Support Allowance (if income-related);
  • Income Support;
  • Universal Credit related to low income (household income after tax being less than £15,400 per annum excluding benefits);
  • Tax Credits related to low income (household income less than £16,190 per annum before tax);
  • The guaranteed part of Pension Credit (which tops up weekly income if below £173.75 for single people or £265.20 for couples);
  • The ‘run-on’ Working Tax Credit payments paid for four weeks after stopping work;
  • Payments paid to asylum seekers* via Part 6 of the Immigration & Asylum Act.

Amounts shown are correct at time of writing (September 2020) but may be subject to change thereafter.

* Note: Asylum seekers who have an NRPF (‘No Recourse to Public Funds) Visa and non-EAA citizens who are ‘Zambrano Carers’ may still be eligible in some cases.

2. The qualifying ‘additional needs’

Toddler in play area

The two-year-old may still qualify for free childcare funding if:

  • the local authority are charged with looking after them;
  • they receive Disability Living Allowance;
  • they have a statement of Special Educational Needs (SEN);
  • they are subject to an Education, Health & Care plan (EHC);
  • they have left care under an Adoption Order;
  • they have left care under a Child Arrangements Order;
  • they have left care under a Special Guardianship Order.

Note: Please check with your childcare setting whether additional items like nappies and meals will cost extra as, strictly speaking, these are not covered by the Government scheme for 2-year-olds.

How to apply for free childcare funding for your 2-year-old

Toddler with play camera at nursery school

Applying for free childcare funding for your 2-year-old is quite straight forward:

  1. Initially, we recommend that you discuss your possible application with your intended childcare provider. See below for contact details and links if this is likely to be Treetops Nursery in Willesden.
  2. Once you’re ready to apply, you can do so on the Government’s Childcare Choices website.

Free Childcare for 2-year-olds at Treetops Nursery, Willesden

Treetops Nursery in Willesden, London NW10, accepts free childcare under the Government scheme for eligible 2-year-olds, subject to available places of course. An added bonus is that those accessing 15 free hours of childcare for their 2-year-old do not need to pay the usual £50 registration fee at Treetops Nursery.

Get Started

If you would like more information about free childcare funding for your child at Treetops Nursery in Willesden, please call 020 8963 1259 or send us a message here. You can also book a visit to our nursery here. We are a high quality nursery and pre-school in Willesden, London NW10, so are also ideal for parents and carers looking for outstanding childcare services near Willesden Green, Harlesden and Kensal Green.

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 point out details about letters and phonetics. They can get children to familiarise themselves with the shape of words and syllables, so that they become embedded and instantly recognisable to the child. They can also help children identify new words more easily, through their association with adjacent images. They can also highlight the correct use of phrasing and grammar and so on. In such ways, children are going to pick up a methodology in their approach. The bottom line is that reading with children will not only improve their own reading ability, but also their communication, language, comprehension, vocabulary, grammar and ultimately overall literacy.

Additional benefits of reading with children

Mum reading with under-five child

As well as boosting overall literacy and preparing preschoolers well for school, reading with children will also have a number of additional benefits for a child. Children engaged in regular reading sessions with parents or carers will develop greater imaginations as they explore stories together. They will develop a greater understanding of the world as they encounter new topics. They will learn to express their emotions more readily as they respond to stories or characters. This, in turn, will nurture their feelings of empathy and improve upon their social development. Studies also show that parent-child reading creates stronger bonds between them. It also encourages a love for reading as they grow. This is important, of course, because a love of reading will naturally translate into a deeper understanding of a wider range of topics. That’s education, right there, in a nutshell.

A love of reading will naturally translate into a deeper understanding of a wider range of topics. That’s education, right there, in a nutshell.

The magical thing is that it’s all done in a natural, relaxed way — it feels in no way like ‘work’ for the parent, nor like ‘‘studying’ for the child. Chances are, the parent will learn new things along the way too. It’s an absolute win-win!

Reading at Treetops Nursery, Willesden

Mother & child enjoying a story together

At Treetops Nursery in Willesden, we understand the profound importance of reading a wide variety of engaging reading materials with the nursery children. We read with them in an interactive way. As well as encouraging the basics like connecting sounds with letters of the alphabet, we encourage children to follow along, get actively involved and give feedback about the story or topic. Their active involvement includes listening, speaking, asking and answering questions and expressing themselves. They learn from all of this, improve reading, writing, language and vocabulary skills and also become more self-confident in the process. What’s more, it’s actually great fun for everyone involved!

Looking for a nursery place for your baby or child in London NW10?

If you’re looking for a nursery or pre-school place for your baby or under-five child in or around Willesden in London NW10, we’d love to help. We’re particularly convenient for those looking for childcare in Willesden, Willesden Green, Harlesden, Kensal Green and Brondesbury Park. We currently have a few vacancies, but they may not stay around for long. So, if you are looking for a vacancy for your child in a top-notch nursery with outstanding staff and facilities, please get in touch here, call 020 8963 1259 or book a visit to Treetops Nursery here. We look forward to hearing from you and hopefully showing you around in the near future.

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.

A mother helping their child with homeworkBenefits for the child include:

Better life skills:

  • Improved self-esteem and self-confidence;
  • Improved social skills;
  • Improved communication skills;
  • Better focus and organisational skills;
  • More confidence when it comes to tests/exams;
  • Better problem-solving skills;
  • Enhanced tenacity (to keep trying);
  • Greater comprehension and general knowledge;
  • Encouragement and moral support for the child;
  • An enhanced, positive outlook.

Toddler reading with a parentBetter prospects:

  • Better grades;
  • An improved level of skill;
  • Potentially a greater number of skills;
  • A wider choice of lesson topics to study;
  • A choice of better schools and universities to apply to;
  • Ultimately a wider choice of careers with potentially higher pay;
  • Potentially a better quality of life and happiness due to all of the above.

Additional benefits:

  • A closer bond between parent and child;
  • A closer, more strategic alliance between parent and education setting;
  • Reduced rates of truancy;
  • Better behaviour;
  • Higher morale because there is continuous and reliable background support.

So how can parents help?

Setting high but realistic expectations of a child, and explaining the reasons why, will ultimately help the child achieve more. Parents do not suddenly need to become strict and to make the child work all hours. It’s not about that although, of course, if a child has simply become lazy, a little encouragement will help to set the child on the right path again. It’s as much about letting the child know that you’re there for them as it is about proactively helping them if they’re struggling with a topic. Moral support goes a long way with a child but hands-on assistance is priceless when a topic seems unsurmountable for the child. Brainstorming problems together will help too. Setting aside an area of the house where the child can work undisturbed — and without distractions – will also greatly help with the child’s focus.

For preschoolers, you can read to them. You can listen to them read. You can correct them and explain things to them, setting them on the right path in a calm way, in an relaxed home environment.

Reading and writing are the foundation behind every other topic.

You can check their writing. You can also encourage even young children to check spelling and grammar. Even if you’re not great with those yourself, there are many electronic applications that will check for you/your child, whether on a PC, Mac, tablet or mobile. Microsoft Word is the obvious example — or the Open Office ‘Writer’ equivalent. That application is available free online (don’t forget to download and set the appropriate language pack too). However, the child needs to learn the correct spelling and rules around grammar, not just rely on devices to correct things for them. Parents can help with that and it is incredibly important because reading and writing represent the foundation behind every other topic.

Father and baby readingModern curriculum-based text books are extremely good these days, so many parents will be able to pick even unfamiliar topics up and guide a child if they’ve not been able to find their way on a particular homework task or piece of research.

When tests are coming up, it can be stressful for children. Testing them in the run-up to exams will let both you and them know how they’re doing in their preparation. Even just being there for them will help maintain their wellbeing and let them know that they’re not on their own — someone has their back. Adults often understand the nuances of questions a little better than children and adolescents too, so they can help clarify things.

Involving yourself more with their nursery, pre-school or school will allow you and the staff to be on same wavelength — more like a partnership, in fact. Parent evenings are essential to attend (read more about that below) and, taking things a step further, you can even consider joining parent groups and school boards so you really have your fingers on the pulse of their education. Collaborating with an educational setting has been shown to have measurable benefits for children.

Proactively select the best settings for your child

One of the best ‘first steps’ a parent can take is to research the actual nursery, preschool, school, college or university that the child will apply for. Check their websites. Speak to staff. Ask around and check feedback on parent forums and similar. Arrange a visit — this is priceless as you’ll be able to see the setting in actual use. Are the children happy? Are the facilities good? How are the staff? Does the setting have good reviews and so on. This is an excellent first step for any parent.

Parent evenings

A mum helping her daughter with homeworkLike most nurseries and educational settings, Treetops Nursery hosts parent evenings which allow nursery staff and parents to discuss the child’s learning and development in detail. It’s also a great opportunity to make sure all parents are up to date on everything happening at the nursery, in particular in regard to their own children. Parent evenings typically happen twice a year but, at Treetops, we’re always available to speak to parents, so please don’t feel you have to wait until a parent evening to discuss anything about your child.

Personal Development Folders for every child

Every child at Treetops Nursery also has their own personal development folder, which is kept up to date by a ‘key worker’ assigned to the child. These staff members monitor progress of the child’s learning and development as they progress through the nursery and pre-school. We actively encourage parents to view their child’s development folder regularly and to keep up to date on progress through dialogue with the key worker for their child. Parents are also invited to add details of experiences the child has outside of the nursery. In this way, a more rounded picture of the child’s development is maintained.

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.

Summing up

We hope that this article has gone some way to explain why the involvement of parents in their children’s education is so impactful and so incredibly important. A child that has experienced the involvement of a parent in their education is likely to end up with a more rounded education with better grades, enhanced life skills and ultimately better life choices. As we said before, that is priceless.

Contact Treetops Nursery

If you are looking for a nursery or pre-school in Willesden, north west London, and would like more information about Treetops Nursery, we’d be delighted to tell you more about the setting and explain what we can do for your baby or toddler. Call 020 8963 1259 or email us here and we’ll be happy to help. You can also arrange a visit here and see our location on a map here.