Tag Archive for: England

It’s the Perfect Time for Some Children's Gardening Activities!

At the time of publishing this article, many UK children are enjoying National Children’s Gardening Week. At this time of year, the weather is sunnier more often, so it’s the perfect time to involve children in gardening activities. Whether taking part in the event or not, gardening is a fun, educational activity for children — and will also help to make the world a better place! So, if you would like to introduce your child to gardening and all that it has to offer little ones, read on as we tell you about some gardening activity ideas that little ones can take part in now and at any time during the warmer months of the year.

National Children’s Gardening Week

National Children's Gardening Week takes place each year during the 'warm week' beginning right at the end of May.National Children’s Gardening Week takes place each year in the UK during what’s known as the ‘warm week’ beginning right at the end of May. This year (2024) it spans from 25 May to 2 June. However, children can get involved in gardening well outside of those dates*, of course.

The annual gardening event for children started in the north of England but now takes place across the whole Nation and, like the plants and flowers in the gardens, its popularity is growing. Indeed, children are taking part at home, in schools, and at childcare settings like nurseries and preschools. In turn, the initiative itself supports the Greenfingers charity, which provides wonderful gardens and outdoor spaces for children in hospices.

* Children Can Garden Any Time in the Warmer Months

Late spring and the summer months in particular make things much easier for children to learn about gardening as there’s negligible chance of frost occurring. Warmer weather makes gardening easier and less complicated for them because, when it’s warm, there is no need to protect plants and seedlings from adverse weather conditions. What’s more, gardening results are much faster during the warmer months of the year, so even less patient children can remain engaged. That said, patience is something every child will have to learn, so a little waiting for results is a good lesson to learn.

Gardening Activities for Children

There are many fun gardening-related activities for children to do during the warmer months. Here are a few ideas to get children and families started.

Grow with Peter Rabbit Activities

Free "Grow With Peter Rabbit!" activity booklets are available to download.This year (2024), National Children’s Gardening Week has teamed up with The World of Peter Rabbit and is encouraging children and their families to Grow With Peter Rabbit! Free activity booklets for the initiative can be downloaded here.  The dozen or so pages in this year’s activity booklet include 9 gardening-related activity ideas for children to take part in. Activities include anything from growing a windowsill herb garden and creating leaf-print cards to more simple tasks like solving garden-related pictorial puzzles. Download the activity booklet using the bold link above.

Wildflower Growing Activity

The most simple way to sow and locate seeds is to create a wildflower meadow.A quick and easy outdoor activity for children is to sow and grow wildflowers (follow the bold link for much more information about this simple but worthwhile activity). Once growing and flowering, wildflowers will brighten up the garden and also attract important pollinators like bees and butterflies. What’s more, this activity is possible using just flower pots or grow bags on a patio or balcony if you don’t have access to a garden. You can also download our free butterfly reference poster for children here.

Make Simple Bird Feeders

A wonderful way to encourage young children to enjoy and learn from nature is for parents to help them make bird feeders.Did you know, there are some incredibly easy ways for children to make home-made bird feeders?  Follow our guide and you’ll soon see how children can make bird feeders from something as simple as a pine cone or even a recycled milk carton. Take a look via the link and get ready to welcome some lovely birds to your patch. Indeed, bird spotting is all part of the fun (download our free bird-spotting poster here).

Composting Activity

As the compost pile transforms, involve children in observing the changes.Composting is another hugely worthwhile activity for children to take part in, even right up into the Autumn. It’s easy and a great way to ecologically dispose of waste like egg shells, vegetable peelings, and garden waste like grass cuttings. What’s more, once complete, the household will have a ready supply of nutrient-rich compost that will enrich and feed flowers and plants in the garden or flower pots on the windowsill.

Minibeast Spotting

The Great Outdoors serves as a natural classroom, with true hands-on learning experiences that provide numerous opportunities for children to acquire new skills and knowledge.Compost heaps are also wonderful homes for minibeasts, which are also fun and educational for children to spot. Use our previously published free Minibeast Reference Poster to learn how to recognise some of the common minibeasts that might be hiding in gardens, under pots, and in compost heaps around Britain.

Wildlife-Friendly Gardening

Try to teach your children how to make gardens wildlife-friendly (whether in back gardens or smaller spaces like patios and balconies). Ensure children understand that wildlife like bees and other flora and fauna are under threat from nasty chemicals and habitat loss. Try to teach your children how to make gardens wildlife-friendly.So, making a wildlife-friendly garden or area is a very worthwhile activity for children to take part in — and is educational on so many levels. See our separate guide to wildlife-friendly gardening for kids, try some of the ideas above, or download this free wildlife-friendly activity pack.

Indoor ‘Gardening’ Activities for Kids

The seeds will eventually grow into green cress 'hair', giving the egg people real character!Children can do ‘gardening’ activities indoors too! Get them to try making egg cress heads, for example. It’s an easy, fun activity and children will love the results!

Did you know that children can also grow food from scratch indoors? They’ll love growing microgreens indoors and it can also be done on a windowsill. Not only will it be fun and educational for the children, but they’ll also be able to eat the results! Learn more about growing microgreens indoors here and learn more about the benefits of teaching children to grow food here.

More Gardening Ideas for Kids

More gardening-related activities for children can be found here. At the bottom of that page, you can also use the ‘older entries’ link to discover even more ideas.

Gardening is also a great way to introduce children to the concept of sustainability, ecological matters, and the need to protect both the environment and the planet as a whole. After all, we only have one planet and our children and grandchildren will eventually be in charge of its stewardship. Find out about some additional sustainable gardening activities that children can take part in here.

Why Gardening is Such a Worthwhile Activity for Children

Gardening will teach children many new skills and new knowledge.The benefits of gardening for children are many and varied and that’s why it’s such a wonderful activity to get them involved in. It will teach children many new skills and new knowledge. It’ll teach them about the circle of life, how to care and be responsible for other living things, and about the importance of looking after the planet. It will also give them an insight into where some food types come from. It is also great fun, will give children a huge sense of achievement, and may even open their eyes to the possibility of careers in horticulture, land management, food production, farming, and the like. And, of course, gardening makes the world a better place in so many ways. Let’s also not forget that being around nature is hugely beneficial to children, but do remember to follow good safety precautions when children are outdoors.

Little Cedars Nursery: First-Class Childcare in Streatham

Looking for the best childcare in Streatham or near Tooting, Furzedown, or Balham?

Little Cedars is a nursery & preschool offering high quality childcare in Streatham, near Tooting, Tooting Bec, Tooting Common, Tooting Broadway, Furzedown, Balham, Norbury and Colliers Wood.Ofsted rate Little Cedars Day Nursery as a Good ProviderLittle Cedars Nursery also appreciates the importance of nature and outdoor play, so often engages children in such activities in our wonderful outdoor spaces. These include our own planting area where children can grow vegetables! The setting is a first-class nursery and preschool in Streatham and may also suit families nearby in Furzedown, Tooting, Balham, Norbury and Colliers Wood. A full early years education is available here for babies and under-fives, who are given all the tools and guidance they need to thrive once they leave us to begin at school. Government-funded childcare schemes are supported and the nursery is rated by Ofsted as a ‘Good Provider’.

So, if you’d like to give your baby, toddler, or preschooler the best start in life in the Streatham region, please get in touch today:

 

 

Starting School in Reception Year: Frequently Asked Questions

If you have a baby, toddler or preschooler, you’ll soon need to think about them starting school. The rules around starting school in England can be confusing at times, so today we take a look through commonly asked questions around the topic to clarify matters. For instance, at what age do children in England legally have to begin school? Is ‘Reception Year’ the same as Year 1 (no, by the way), and is attending Reception Class even compulsory? All these questions and many more are answered in today’s post. Click any question to reveal the answer.

Reception Year is the year most children in England, aged from 4 to 5, start school. It’s a kind of ‘in-between’ year, coming after nursery/pre-school, but before primary school ‘Year 1’. Although Reception Year takes place at primary school, it’s the final year of the Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS) and continues to use a primarily play-based learning approach. However, once Reception Year is complete, children move to Year 1 and begin the Key Stage 1 (KS1) curriculum, a more adult-led, formal learning approach by topic.

Reception Year is also referred to simply as ‘Reception‘ as well as being known as Year R, Year 0, or FS2 (for Foundation Second Year).

No — as outlined above, Reception Year is the year that precedes Year 1 so, numerically speaking, is Year 0 (see the question above for additional naming variants).

The general consensus is that children who attend school in Reception Year benefit hugely. Having attended Reception, reading, writing, numeracy, social skills and many other abilities will have improved. Studies show that longer-term academic outcomes, including GCSE grades, are improved. Even children’s likely earnings will be higher later on as adults — such is the positive effect of a good Reception Year education.

Attending school in Reception Year is not compulsory, but is a great way for children to transition from preschool to school and to gain extra teaching. As such, it is something that the UK Government’s Department of Education (DfE) believes children should not miss out on.

Children who go into Reception Year are usually aged between 4 and 5. However, there are occasional exceptions. An example would be where a child aged 5 has missed Reception – for whatever reason – and their parents have later made a successful application for their admission to Reception “outside of the normal age group”.

The law states that children reach Compulsory School Age on the earliest of the 31st of the August, December, or March which arrives on or after they reach the age of 5. They would then usually start school in the September term that follows (being the start of the nearest full school year).

That said, most children begin school earlier, at the age of 4, as we’ll see below.

Yes. Despite the compulsory school age for full-time education in England being five, most children actually start school at the age of four. The majority of them will start in ‘Reception Year’ in the September term that follows their fourth birthday. However, whilst still four, they can attend part-time, full-time, or even part of the way through the year. Indeed, some schools have a staggered system for 4-year-olds joining Reception Year, starting them part-time at first. Others, however, require full-time schooling right from the start.

Yes*, for what are known as ‘Summer born’ children. That’s if your child’s birthday falls somewhere during the period 1 April and 31 August and, for example, you feel they are not ready for the challenges of school while they’re still 4. In such a scenario, you can defer their start until they’re five — in accordance with Compulsory School Age rules outlined earlier. Learn more about delaying your child’s school start here.

* Different rules apply to children who are subject to an Educational, Health & Care (EHC) plan.

If your child doesn’t start school until they’re five, local authorities and schools will decide whether such children should start in Reception Year (a year later than most of their peers of the same age) or go straight into Year One with children of the same age. It all comes down to what they feel would be in the child’s best interests, taking into account any special circumstances or special needs. Parents can, however, make a request for such children to start school in Reception Year as opposed to Year 1 and this is known as ‘requesting admission out of the normal age group‘.

This is a tricky area because, on the one hand, the Government’s official view is: “… it is usually not in a child’s best interests to miss the teaching that takes place during the Reception Year, and … it should be rare for a child to start school in year 1.” However, on the other hand, the usual ‘default’ for children starting school at the age of 5, whose parents have not made a request for admission out of the normal age group, is that they would usually go straight into Year 1 — i.e. with children their own age.

Irrespective of whether your child begins school at the age of 4 or 5, you need to apply for a place when they are still 3, or at the very latest when they have just reached the age of 4. More details about applying for school places are available in this guide.

If you live in England*, your local authority is responsible for education in state-funded schools. Click here to find the right local authority for your area and then navigate to the relevant schools section of their website. This will contain a whole host of information usually including a school search function, term dates, eligibility requirements, how to apply for a school place, plus a wealth of additional school- and education-related information.

Try to visit any contenders — most will have open days. Also, check Ofsted reports and school performance tables and try to speak with parents whose children have attended to gain some insights.

* Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland have different processes. ().

You can alternatively pay for your child’s education through a private (‘independent’) school by making enquiries directly with them. Research to find them online, try a search engine or ask around for recommendations.

Like state-funded schools, independent schools are also inspected and reports will be available through whichever organisation inspects them (about half of them are through Ofsted).

In many cases you can, if you so decide, teach your child at home instead of sending them to school. This is known as homeschooling or ‘Elective Home Education’ (EHE). If going this route, your child must be receiving a suitable, efficient, full-time education and be doing so from the age of five. You can home-school them full-time or educate them part-time at home and the other part at school, although some schools may not allow part-time school placements.

However, there are some scenarios where it’s not possible to home-school your child. Examples may include some children who are party to a ‘School Attendance Order‘, some children with SEN attending special schools, and children who have been deemed by the local authority not to be receiving suitable home education.

More information is available here.

By law, schools must publish certain information on their official websites and this includes a special educational needs (SEN) information report. This must explain their individual policies in regard to eligibility and arrangements for children who have special educational needs and disabilities.

If you would like to suggest any additional questions on the topics of starting school and Reception Year, please let us know using the middle button below; many thanks.

Little Cedars is a High-Quality Nursery in Streatham

Little Cedars Day Nursery provides first-class weekday childcare services in Streatham

Little Cedars is a nursery & preschool offering high-quality childcare in Streatham, near Tooting, Tooting Bec, Tooting Common, Tooting Broadway, Furzedown, Balham, Norbury and Colliers Wood.Ofsted rates Little Cedars Day Nursery as a Good ProviderLittle Cedars is a wonderful childcare nursery located in Streatham in London’s SW16 area. As you can see via the logo on the left, we are rated by Ofsted as a ‘Good Provider’, so you know your baby, toddler or preschooler will be in safe and caring hands. We’ll ensure they receive the very best care and an early years education that will help them become the very best version of themselves. In this way, they’ll be school-ready by the time they leave us to begin in Reception Year at primary school.

To further explore the chance of a childcare place for your child at Little Cedars Nursery, please get in touch using an option below:

Guide to National Offer Day for Primary School Admissions

What is National Offer Day in the UK?

National Offer Day is the day that parents receive confirmation of which school their child has been offered for the next academic year. For those with preschoolers who require primary school places starting in the September term, over 92% (2023: 92.5%) will typically get an offer from their first choice and over 98% (2023: 98.6%) usually receive an offer from a school within their top 3 choices. Out of 568,600 primary school applications made last year for the academic year 2023/24, only 8,000 (1.4%) didn’t receive offers for one of their preferred primary schools (statistics are lower for secondary school places).

In today’s guide, we outline how and when parents of under-fives should apply for primary school places, how places are allocated, what to expect on National Offer Day (a.k.a. Primary School Offer Day for preschoolers), and what your options are if you do not receive an offer for your preferred school.

When Will Your Child Receive Their Primary School Offer?

National Offer Day for primary school places falls on the 16th of April (for secondary school places it is the 1st of March). On the ‘offers’ day, those who applied for places online will receive an email* from their local council to confirm the offer. There are lots for the council to send out, so the time of day the email arrives with you will vary from location to location. Also note that, in years when those dates coincide with a Bank Holiday or a weekend, the offers will instead be sent during the next working day.

* Some local authorities also allow parents to view offers through the council’s admissions portal/system.

When is Compulsory School Age?

Although most children begin school in the September following their fourth birthday, they have the option to start a little later if preferred. Compulsory School Age, which is the age they must be when they begin full-time education by law, is whichever comes first of the 31st of December, March or August following their fifth birthday. In practice, though, most children in the UK begin school at the age of four and reach five during their first year at school.

When to Apply for Your Child’s Primary School Place

For primary school places, you must apply in advance when your child is 3 or has just turned 4 at the time of application, even for those wishing to start school later.

Applications for September Reception year primary or infant school places should usually be made no later than 15 January that year but can be made as early as September of the previous year.

Example:

For a child starting primary school at the age of 4 in September 2024, apply any time from 1 September 2023 to 15 January 2024.

‘In-Year’ Applications:

For one reason or another, for example after moving house, some families may have to apply for a primary school place for their child after the school year has started. Such ‘in-year’ applications will obviously not follow the usual dates outlined above and, once an offer has been received, the child will usually begin at the agreed primary school at the start of the next full term.

What If Your Application is Late?

“Your child is less likely to be offered a place at their chosen schools if you miss the deadline for applications.” (Gov.uk)

It’s worth noting that applications may not be processed until some time in May if they are received late. As May is long after the processing of all those that were received on time has occurred, the odds of getting a school place at your first choice are potentially reduced if you’re late. In other words, if you want to stand a better chance of getting your preferred school for your child, don’t be late with your application! Late applications may also require the use of a separate ‘late application’ form.

How & Where to Apply

Families should apply for school places for their children through their local council even if they are applying for a school in a different area. They should also still apply if they are applying for a school that’s linked directly to their child’s existing nursery/setting. When applying, you’ll be able to list your preferred schools in order and, subject to available places, this order will be taken into consideration when your application is being processed.

Applications for primary school places can be made online (start here) or via your council’s paper application form. Note, however, that those applying via a paper form may receive the outcome of their application a little later, probably via 2nd Class post, if they didn’t include an email address as part of their application.

Criteria for School Offers

As well as the timing criteria outlined above, other factors will influence how likely you are to receive an offer for your preferred primary school, although the exact factors vary from school to school. They may include how close your child lives to the preferred school, whether your child has a sibling there already, whether you as a parent have worked at the school for 2 or more years, whether it’s a faith school that matches your faith, plus other potential factors.

Accepting Offers for Primary School Places

Be warned that the offer you receive for your child’s primary school place will include a deadline and you will need to accept the offer by that deadline in order to secure your child’s place. If you do not accept it in time, the primary school place may instead be offered to another child.

What If Your Child Is Not Offered a Place at Your Preferred School?

For one reason or another, a small percentage of families (2023: 1.4%) will not receive an offer from a school within those they selected as ‘preferred’ during their application. If your local council is unable to offer your child a place at any of your preferred schools, the council will need to offer you a place at an alternative primary school. Usually, this will be the nearest primary school that has a place available.

Appealing Your Child’s Primary School Offer

If you do not receive an offer for one of your preferred schools for your child, you can appeal the decision if you so wish. The offer letter will give more details about how to do so. More information about the appeals process can be found here.

Note, however, that it may be wise to first accept the offer your child was originally given so that you have something to fall back on should your appeal be unsuccessful. Doing so does not, apparently, adversely affect your appeal. The same is true if you decide to ask to go on a waiting list for a preferred school, and we’ll come to that next.

Primary School Waiting Lists

In the unlikely event that no primary school place is available, or if you do not receive an offer at your preferred school for your child, you can apply for your child to be put on a waiting list. This would be done through your local council although you can also contact the school itself to enquire. Interestingly, you can also put your child’s name on a preferred school’s waiting list even if you have already received and accepted an offer elsewhere.

Good Luck!

We hope this guide has been useful and wish you good luck with your primary school applications. We hope that you receive the choices you hoped for once the primary school offers day arrives.

Little Cedars Nursery, Streatham

A High-Quality Nursery & Preschool in Streatham, near Tooting, Furzedown, Balham, Norbury & Colliers Wood

Little Cedars is a nursery & preschool offering high quality childcare in Streatham, near Tooting, Tooting Bec, Tooting Common, Tooting Broadway, Furzedown, Balham, Norbury and Colliers Wood.Ofsted rate Little Cedars Day Nursery as a Good ProviderLittle Cedars is a high-quality nursery and preschool in Streatham, SW16. Rated by Ofsted as a ‘Good Provider’ of early years childcare and education, children under our care receive a first-class start to life in our warm, loving, home-from-home environment. At Little Cedars, we bring out the best in every child to help them become school-ready by the time they leave us to begin school in their fifth year.

Get in touch today to learn more about a nursery place for your child at Little Cedars:

Free Wild Mammals Poster for Under-5s — & World Wildlife Day

With World Wildlife Day falling on the 3rd of March and Spring virtually upon us, we thought it was a great time to produce another free wildlife poster for children and families to download. This one features 20 wild British* land mammals that children will love! Using the poster, they can learn to identify the animals shown and perhaps look out for them when out and about over the coming months and years. It’s a handy reference tool that can be used to get to know their furry neighbours, whether in local parks, on trips to the countryside, or whilst on holiday. While some creatures like grey squirrels are common to see, some of the others shown are more shy — but that just makes it more exciting when they are finally spotted!

Many of Britain's wild mammals are stunningly beautiful and children often have a natural interest in them.Getting children interested in nature, and spending time around it, is extremely good for them as we’ve reported before — the benefits of nature to children are simply huge. Today’s focus on British mammals will not only be a good way to encourage an interest in some of Britain’s wonderful creatures but may also help them understand more about the need to support conservation efforts and protect wildlife. It’s a great way to foster empathy in little ones too. We’ll tell you more about World Wildlife Day shortly but first, grab yourself and your children the free mammals poster — the creatures shown are stunningly beautiful and kids are bound to love displaying the poster.

Download, print out and feel free to share this British Wild Mammals poster. Click the bold blue link or the preview image below and save to your hard drive. Once opened in Acrobat Reader and printed out, children can see if they can learn the different animal names and even spot some of the beautiful creatures over coming years while outside, in the countryside, or on holiday.

Free Wild Mammals Poster for Under-5s — & World Wildlife Day

United Nations World Wildlife Day

World Wildlife Day - 3 MarchWorld Wildlife Day celebrates the world’s flora and fauna. It happens on the 3rd of March each year and is a way to raise awareness of the need to protect nature. That can be achieved by reducing harmful emissions, pollution, habitat loss, and the loss of biodiversity. By introducing children to the beautiful wildlife around them, children will naturally be more empathetic towards other creatures and even progress to learning about conservation matters and the impact of humans on the planet. In this way, little ones can grow into young stewards of the planet and have an active interest in protecting it going forward. Get them started today by downloading our free Wild Mammals poster — who knows where it could lead!

Parents, teachers and early years practitioners can learn more about the United Nations World Wildlife Day here.

Other Free Wildlife Posters Children Can Download

Don’t forget that this is just one in a series of several wildlife/nature-related posters. All of them are free, shareable, and will be both fun and educational for children. Choose from today’s British Mammals poster above, our British Birds poster, Minibeasts poster, or Butterflies poster. Follow the links for more details and the free downloads.

Exceptional Childcare in Streatham

Little Cedars: a high-quality childcare nursery in Streatham, London, SW16

Little Cedars is a nursery & preschool offering high quality childcare in Streatham, near Tooting, Tooting Bec, Tooting Common, Tooting Broadway, Furzedown, Balham, Norbury and Colliers Wood.Ofsted rate Little Cedars Day Nursery as a Good ProviderWe love nature and all the benefits it brings to children, so we’re lucky to be located close to Tooting Common at Little Cedars Day Nursery (Streatham, SW16). We also encourage children to get involved in planting and growing in our own garden at the setting as nature teaches them so much. It’s all part of the early years learning and development programme at the setting.

Contact Little Cedars Nursery today and explore the possibility of a nursery/preschool place for your child in Streatham:

Based in Streatham, Little Cedars Nursery may also suit your little one if you are looking for a high-quality nursery or preschool near Tooting Common, Tooting, Streatham Hill, Streatham Park, Streatham Common, Furzedown, Tooting Bec, Tooting Broadway, Balham, Norbury or Colliers Wood.

* By ‘British’ we mean mammals that can be found and seen in Britain. We are keeping things simple for little ones but appreciate, of course, that some of the animals featured were not originally indigenous to Britain. Examples include the Muntjac Deer (originally from China) and the grey squirrel (originally from North America). Even some red squirrels that we see in parts of Britain may be descendants of some that were imported to boost our own declining populations. We also appreciate that there are several sub-species not shown, e.g. several types of mouse, shrew, vole and others. That, again, is to keep things simple for little ones.

A Guide to January's Big Garden Birdwatch – Children Get Ready!

The Big Garden Birdwatch takes one hour, is free, and is an extremely worthwhile activity for children and families to take part in.Parents and children, don’t miss this year’s incredibly important birdwatching activity for the RSPB — and the planet — which occurs from Friday 26th to Sunday 28th January. The Big Garden Birdwatch only takes one hour, is free, and is an extremely worthwhile activity for children and families to take part in. It’s a great way to introduce children to the concept of conservation as well as getting them interested in spending time in and around nature. And, as we’ve reported before, nature is extremely good for children! In today’s post, we explain how easy it is to get your little ones involved and why taking part is a win-win-win for families, birds and nature.

What is the Big Garden Birdwatch?

The Big Garden Birdwatch began in 1979 and happens annually. It is the biggest garden wildlife survey in the world, each year attracting hundreds of thousands of participants up and down the length of the UK. 9.1 million birds were reported in last year’s count.

In essence, people get involved simply by choosing an outdoor patch, and then counting birds that land there during the course of an hour. They then report their findings to the RSPB. We’ll cover a bit more detail on how to go about that later in this article.

Why Does the Big Garden Birdwatch Matter?

The Big Garden Birdwatch is a great way to introduce children to the concept of conservation as well as getting them interested in spending time closer to nature.Monitoring populations of bird species every year allows the RSPB and other conservation organisations to see how the various types of garden birds are faring. Whether or not they’re doing well will be a barometer of the state of nature itself as well as that of the individual bird populations. If the RSPB and other conservation organisations can see a problem, they can then mobilise to try to do something about it. Likewise, if they see a particular bird species doing well, they can learn from that and better understand what measures are helping that particular bird population to thrive.

Nature is also incredibly good for children, helping them cognitively, academically, spiritually, mentally, socially, creatively and physically. Spending time in nature has also been shown to improve test results, lower stress levels and even improve earning potential. Learn more about the amazing benefits of nature to children here or, better still, get them involved in the Big Garden Birdwatch this January!

What Sort of Discoveries Has the Annual Big Garden Birdwatch Uncovered?

Each year, the Big Garden Birdwatch uncovers intriguing and useful data about how bird species in the UK are faring. For example:

  • Song Thrush populations are 80% lower than they were when the survey began in 1979.In 2023, the bird species spotted the most was the House Sparrow, followed by the Blue Tit in second place, Starling in third, Wood Pigeon in fourth and Blackbird in fifth.
  • Despite that, historical data from the count shows that even House Sparrow numbers have significantly declined — by 57% — since the count began in 1979.
  • Song Thrush populations are 80% lower than they were when the survey began.
  • Indeed, during the last 6 decades, data suggests that bird populations in the UK have dropped by over 38 million, a huge and worrying number.

How Families & Children Can Take Part in the Big Garden Birdwatch

There are 4 simple steps required to take part in the Big Garden Birdwatch this January:

  1. Register free, via the RSPB website. By registering you'll get a free guide to taking part and visual reference for identifying different birds.By registering you’ll also get a free guide to taking part in the event, which includes visual reference to the birds to look out for, as well as other perks like a discount on bird food and other bird feeding supplies available from the RSPB’s online shop.
  2. Choose a suitable outdoor patch to monitor during the survey event. It could be your garden, patio, local park, or even a view from a balcony will do.
  3. Between Friday 26 and Sunday 28 January 2024, count how many birds of each species, actually land in your patch during the hour’s monitoring.
  4. Once complete, confirm the biggest number of each bird species that has landed at any one time to the RSPB, along with the location of your patch. Please still confirm your findings even if you saw no birds land at all. Make your submissions online here between 26 January and 18 February 2024.

Children can take part individually or as part of a group. They can also undertake more than one birdwatching hour, and submit more than one set of results, so long as they do so from a different location (‘patch’) in each case. The RSPB guide gives more details about each step, so do ensure you visit the RSPB’s Big Garden Watch web area to get familiar with what’s required and to access your free guide.

Keen to Attract More Birds for Your Count?

A great spotted woodpecker visiting a garden bird feeder.If you’re keen to attract as many birds as possible to your Garden Birdwatch count, the RSPB has you covered. As well as providing useful tips on how to attract birds on their website, they also offer those taking part in the Big Garden Birdwatch a 15% discount on bird food and easy-to-clean bird feeders from their online shop. Delivery is also free to participants. Follow the bold links for more information.*

* (Details are given in good faith and are understood to be correct at the time of going to press. However, 3rd party offers are beyond our control and, as such, may be subject to change without notice).

Little Cedars Day Nursery in Streatham

High-Quality Childcare in Streatham, London, SW16

Little Cedars is a nursery & preschool offering high quality childcare in Streatham, near Tooting, Tooting Bec, Tooting Common, Tooting Broadway, Furzedown, Balham, Norbury and Colliers Wood.Ofsted rate Little Cedars Day Nursery as a Good ProviderWe hope your little ones have fun getting involved in this year’s Big Garden Birdwatch — they’re sure to enjoy the nature-based activity as they take their first step towards becoming little citizen scientists. It’s hugely worthwhile for the birds and ecology and, as we know at Little Cedars Day Nursery, nature is hugely beneficial to children too.

If you are looking for high-quality childcare services in or near Streatham, do consider Little Cedars Day Nursery. Ofsted rates us as a good provider of early years education and childcare and we represent a wonderful start to children’s early years. We bring out the very best in every child and prepare them well to ensure readiness for school when they leave us around the age of five. We support various childcare funding schemes too, making our childcare service even more affordable for eligible families.

To request a place for your child at Little Cedars Day Nursery in Streatham, or to find out more, please get in touch using one of the following options:

Our Streatham nursery and preschool is close to Tooting Common, Tooting, Streatham Hill, Streatham Park, Streatham Common, Furzedown, Tooting Bec, Tooting Broadway, Balham, Norbury and Colliers Wood, so may also suit families in those nearby locations.

Child Benefit: a Complete Guide for Parents/Guardians (2023/24 Edition)

Today’s guide aims to explain everything you ever wanted to know about Child Benefit in the UK. This benefit could be a lifesaver with the current economy and interest rates being what they are. Learn the rules around eligibility, discover how much you can get, and see how many children you can claim for. We’ll also explain what impact your earnings may have, how long you can continue claiming for, and much more. So, if you’re responsible for bringing up a child, take a look!

What Is Child Benefit?

Child Benefit is a financial support scheme designed to help parents and guardians with the costs of raising children.Child Benefit is a financial support scheme, provided by the UK Government, that’s there to assist parents and guardians in covering the costs of raising children. It is an essential part of the social safety net in the United Kingdom and aims to help families with the financial responsibilities that come with bringing up children. Eligible families are free to spend Child Benefit however they like, whether that’s on children’s clothes, food, or something else.

Who is Eligible to Claim Child Benefit?

In the UK, Child Benefit is available to those primarily responsible for raising a child under the age of 16, or under 20 if they’re in approved education or training (N.B. that’s unless they get paid for working 24 or more hours per week instead, begin an apprenticeship, or claim certain benefits themselves).

Child Benefit is usually paid to the person who is primarily “responsible for the child’s care”.

To be eligible, you must be living in the UK, the child you’re claiming for must reside with you, and you must be spending at least the equivalent of the benefit you’ll receive on caring for your child (e.g. through food, clothes, etc.). Up to a certain level, income doesn’t affect eligibility (we’ll explain rules around income later in this guide*) and you do not need to be working. Note also that savings do not affect eligibility. Interestingly, you do not necessarily have to be the child’s parent in order to claim, although only one person can claim for a particular child.

More details about eligibility for Child Benefit can be found here, including some caveats, exceptions and special circumstances.

How Many Children Can You Claim For?

There are no restrictions on the number of children you can claim for, so each child in your care can be covered if you're eligible.You can claim Child Benefit for all of your children who meet the eligibility criteria. It may surprise some to learn that there are no restrictions on the number of children you can claim for (unlike with some other types of Government child support), so each eligible child in your care can be covered under this benefit.

How Much Do You Get?

For the 2023/24 tax year, the rates for Child Benefit have increased to the following levels:

• For the eldest or only child: £24.00 per week;
• For additional children: £15.90 per week for each additional child.

Example:

If you are responsible for looking after 3 eligible children, you will get 1 x £24 per week plus 2 x £15.90 each week. That amounts to £55.80 per week or £2901.60 per annum.

These rates can be a valuable contribution to your family’s finances and provide some relief from the costs associated with raising children. They are usually paid to you monthly, however, you may be able to arrange weekly payments in some circumstances. The money is paid directly to you and can be paid into most types of bank or building society accounts, with the exception of Post Office card accounts and Nationwide Cash Builder accounts with sort code 07 00 30 that are registered in someone else’s name.

* How Do Your Earnings Affect It?

Child Benefit can be affected by your or your partner’s individual income if either of you earns over £50,000 annually.Child Benefit can be affected by your or your partner’s individual income if either of you earns over £50,000 annually. In such cases, you may have to pay a ‘High Income Child Benefit Tax Charge’. This charge gradually reduces your Child Benefit entitlement if your income is between £50,000 and £60,000. Indeed, if your income exceeds £60,000, you’ll likely have to repay the entire amount through this tax charge. We’ll cover more of the detail in the next section below…

Is Child Benefit Subject to Income Tax?

Whether Child Benefit is subject to Income Tax depends on the level of you/your partner’s income:

  • If you or your partner earn less than £50,000 per year, Child Benefit is not subject to Income Tax, i.e. it is tax-free.
  • If you or your partner earn over £50,000 and no more than £60,000 per annum, you will need to repay 1% of your Child Benefit income for every £100 earned over the £50,000 threshold. This is done through a special kind of income tax called the ‘High Income Child Benefit Charge’.
  • Because that equates to 10% for every £1000 of Childcare Benefit received, 100% of Childcare Benefit has to be repaid through the special income tax charge if you or your partner’s income reaches the upper (£60,000) threshold.

Is Child Benefit Affected by Universal Credit?

No, child benefit is not affected by anything you receive through Universal Credit. As separate schemes in their own right, each is paid independently of the other.

Can Child Benefit Contribute Towards Your State Pension?

Child Benefit will count towards your state pension National Insurance (NI) contributions if the child you are claiming for is under 12 and you are either not in work or do not have sufficient earnings for NI contributions. However, should you not need the NI State Pension credits yourself, you may be able to ask for them to be transferred to your partner/spouse in some circumstances.

How Do You Claim Child Benefit?

Child Benefit can be claimed online or via downloadable paper forms.Claiming Child Benefit is a straightforward process:

  • You can apply online through the official Government website. Fill out the necessary details and submit the form, and you should start receiving your payments within a few weeks. Learn more about how to claim online and what information you’ll need by watching this video.
  • Alternatively, you can use a physical claim form. Two versions of the form exist: a CH2 form to use if you are claiming for up to two children and a CH2 (CS) form for any children in addition to those. Use the bold links to download and print out the forms if you decide to go with the ‘paper’ option.

Tip!

Payments can only be backdated by 3 months. It’s therefore wise to make any claim before your child reaches the age of 3 months.

How Long Can You Claim For?

You can usually claim this benefit until your child reaches the age of 16. However, if your child continues in approved education or training, you can still receive this benefit until they turn 20. As we said before, that’s unless they are paid for working 24 hours or more per week instead of their education or training.

Child Benefit is a crucial source of financial support, helping to ease the financial burden of raising children for eligible families. Be mindful of the income thresholds that may affect your entitlement, and ensure you claim it promptly to access the full value of this funding. Also, keep in mind that Government policies and rates may change over time, so it’s advisable to check the official Government website links above for the most up-to-date information on Child Benefit.

A Nursery Place for Your Child at Little Cedars Nursery, Streatham

Little Cedars is a Nursery & Preschool in Streatham, London SW16

Ofsted rate Little Cedars Day Nursery as a Good ProviderLittle Cedars is a nursery & pre-school offering high quality childcare in Streatham, near Tooting, Tooting Bec, Tooting Common, Tooting Broadway, Furzedown, Balham, Norbury and Colliers Wood.

At Little Cedars Nursery in Streatham, SW16, we are mindful of the significant costs associated with bringing up a child. We therefore support all Government-funded childcare schemes for eligible families. Parents/guardians can also rest assured that we’ll give babies, toddlers and preschoolers the very best start in life, in a warm, nurturing environment. And, as Ofsted agree, we are a good nursery and early years provider.

If you’d like to register your child for a nursery place, ask us a question or arrange a tour of the nursery/preschool with your little one, please get in touch — we’ll be delighted to help.

Our childcare service is based in Streatham near Tooting Common and the A214. As such, it is also conveniently located for families in Streatham Hill, Streatham Common, Streatham Park, Furzedown, Tooting, Balham, Norbury, Colliers Wood, West Norwood, Wandsworth, Clapham and Brixton.

Support for Children with Special Educational Needs & Disabilities (‘SEND’) in Early Years Settings

Today, we’re looking at what help is available for children under five with Special Educational Needs & Disabilities (‘SEND’, also sometimes referred to as ‘SEN and disabilities’). Good support for such children, particularly in their formative years, is of critical importance to their longer-term progress, well-being and success. Appropriate support, provided in a timely and tailored manner, can have a real, positive impact on outcomes for children’s lives.

An Environment of Inclusivity

It is important to foster an inclusive environment for children with SEND, including at childcare/early years settings like Little Cedars Nursery. Whatever their differences, we know it’s crucial for all children to feel safe, comfortable, valued, and loved, as well as being free to express themselves. It’s also important that all children, irrespective of ability/disability, are able to make friends and socialise freely. This is therefore nurtured at childcare settings like Little Cedars.

Changes can also be made to childcare environments like ours, where appropriate, to improve accessibility for children with special educational needs and disabilities.

Identifying SEND

Identification of a special educational need or disability is the first step to properly support affected children.Identification of a special educational need or disability is, of course, the first step in being able to properly support a child with SEND. For this reason, good early years providers like Little Cedars Nursery will, as a matter of course, watch out for signs of things that might be challenging for children. As prescribed by the EYFS approach to early years learning and development, such assessment will occur as part of the day-to-day activities at such nurseries, preschools and early years settings, as well as during more formal assessments like the Progress Check at 2. Childcare practitioners, the Key Person allocated to each individual child, and the setting’s Special Educational Needs Coordinator (SENCo) will usually all be involved in all assessment stages.

Parents will be alerted to any suspicions and indeed should alert childcare settings if they have a SEND-related concern regarding their child. After all, parents may well have more insight, as they know their child best.

External professionals including health visitors, paediatricians and professional specialists and therapists can also be brought in to help with assessments if deemed appropriate. Only once a possible special need or disability has been identified and evaluated is it possible to look at appropriate support options for a child.

Developing a Tailored Support Plan

External specialists/professionals may be involved in the support plan for children with SEND.Support plans for suspected or confirmed special needs or disabilities are then discussed and custom-designed for the child. Such plans will be agreed between the child’s parents/caregivers, staff at the early years setting itself and any external specialists or professionals involved in the child’s care. Such programmes will be customised to suit the individual child’s specific needs and may include tailored activities, strategies, resources and so on. Formalisation of the support programme will allow all parties to pull in the same direction, working cooperatively for the benefit of the child.

“Assess, Plan, Do and Review.”

Progress and the effectiveness of support plans will be evaluated continuously. Should the support plan require fine-tuning along the way, then adjustments will be made to suit the ongoing needs of the child. There is also possible recourse to request an Education, Health & Care (EHC) assessment of the child’s needs from the local authority if deemed appropriate and sanctioned by parents. Should one occur, then a new support plan may be devised.

Similarly, if the help of external experts is required, for example help from a speech and language therapist, this can be arranged as part of the support package for the child.

With the right support, “the great majority of children and young people with SEN or disabilities … can find work, be supported to live independently, and participate in their community.” (DfE)

Special Funding & the Area SENCo

Special funding might be available to fund things like additional one-to-one support, special resources, or activities.In parallel to the SENCo at the child’s early years setting, local authorities also have their own Special Educational Needs Coordinator, known as the Area SENCo. They will also be integral to a child’s SEND support plan, helping with coordination between the local authority, the various parties involved in supporting the child, and in relation to any special funding requirements. If approved, special funding might be required, for example, for an additional member of staff tasked with giving one-to-one support to the child, or to fund extra learning resources and activities for them.

Area SENCos also continue to coordinate support for children with SEND through the transition from early years settings to school.

The ‘Local Offer’ Information Portal

Every local authority publishes information that informs families about the support available in their area for children and young people with special educational needs or disabilities. This is encapsulated in what’s known as The Local Offer. A Local Offer example for Streatham may help to illustrate the kind of help and resources available. Little Cedars Nursery is in the part of Streatham that falls within the London Borough of Wandsworth, and their Local Offer for SEND can be found here.

Funded Childcare for Under-5s with SEND

Parents may be wondering whether any free childcare is available for children with SEND. Here’s a quick snapshot of some of the options:

  • There are several childcare funding options for children with SEND.All 3- and 4-year-olds living in England are eligible for a minimum of 570 hours of free childcare per annum, irrespective of whether or not they have SEND. This is known as Universal Free Childcare or their Free entitlement and is typically taken as 15 hours of childcare each week over 38 weeks of the year, but how it is taken can differ. Learn more here.
  • In some circumstances, the above entitlement for 3- and 4-year-olds may be extended to 1140 hours per annum, equivalent to 30 hours of free childcare over 38 weeks of the year. This is known as Extended Free Childcare or the 30 hours scheme but, unlike with Universal Free Childcare, is means-tested. Many more eligibility criteria also apply (learn more here).
  • 2-year-olds with SEND may also be eligible for free childcare hours if they fall within one or more specific categories (learn more here). These include:
    – Receiving Disability Living Allowance (‘DLA’);
    – Being subject to an Education, Health & Care Plan (‘EHC’);
    – Having received a referral via their local authority’s Portage Service.
  • Parents of disabled children may be able to claim for free childcare support valued up to £4,000 per year through the Government’s Tax-Free Childcare Scheme. Learn more here.

More information about various Government-funded childcare schemes is available in our rough guide to childcare funding here.

Nursery Places at Little Cedars Nursery, Streatham

Little Cedars is a Nursery & Preschool in Streatham, London SW16

Ofsted rate Little Cedars Day Nursery as a Good ProviderLittle Cedars is a nursery & pre-school offering high quality childcare in Streatham, near Tooting, Tooting Bec, Tooting Common, Tooting Broadway, Furzedown, Balham, Norbury and Colliers Wood.

We support all Government-funded childcare schemes for eligible families at Little Cedars. We also endorse all the above support measures aimed at helping children with special educational needs and disabilities. We are officially a good nursery, as benchmarked by Ofsted.  Our nursery and preschool are located in Streatham, London SW16 although we are also conveniently close by for families in Streatham Hill, Streatham Common, Streatham Park, Furzedown, Tooting, Balham, Norbury, Colliers Wood, West Norwood, Wandsworth, Clapham and Brixton.

If you would like to apply for a nursery place for your child, ask any questions or book a tour with your child, please select an option below:

The Progress Check at 2 – it's purpose, who & what are involved, etc.

At Little Cedars Nursery, we understand the importance of monitoring growth in children’s learning and development and ensuring they are reaching their full potential. With that in mind, today’s article is a detailed guide to the Progress Check at Two. An essential milestone in children’s early development, the assessment leads to profound benefits for young children. So, today, we will walk you through everything you need to know about the Progress Check at Two, its purpose, what to expect, and how parents* can actively participate.

The Purpose of the Progress Check at 2

The ‘Progress Check at 2’ is a comprehensive evaluation conducted for children who have reached the age of two. This assessment, completed prior to their third birthday, examines their progress across various essential areas of their learning and development journey. Its primary aim is to identify any areas where additional support or intervention1 may be needed. By closely monitoring children’s progress, early years providers can tailor their approach to meet each child’s unique needs and thereby ensure children’s optimum growth and success.

1. In cases where specific educational needs or disabilities are identified, a collaboration between the childcare provider’s Special Educational Needs Coordinator (SENCo) and relevant health professionals or specialists will be built into the support plan that’s tailored to the child’s requirements.

The Significance of the Age of 2

The age of two is a pivotal period in a child’s development. It is during this stage that a child’s progress in learning, speech, language, cognitive abilities, physical growth, and social-emotional development becomes increasingly clear. Ensuring that each area is developing optimally at this early stage will have long-term benefits for the child, so it is important to confirm that everything is on track. A solid foundation for the child’s long-term growth and success can then be built.

Key Areas of Focus

The Progress Check at 2 concentrates on children’s progress primarily in the three ‘prime’ areas of the Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS) framework. These are:

  1. Communication and Language,
  2. Physical Development, and
  3. Personal, Social and Emotional Development.

However, those involved in conducting the assessment often also evaluate children’s progress in the remaining four ‘specific’ areas of the EYFS curriculum. These are Literacy, Mathematics, Understanding the World, and lastly Expressive Arts and Design.

Preparing Children for School

Initiating the Progress Check at 2 and providing early support increases the likelihood of children overcoming developmental challenges before starting school. This proactive approach prevents setbacks during this crucial period in children’s lives. Without such intervention, children may face difficulties at the beginning of their educational journey, potentially hindering their overall growth and learning long into the future. Without a doubt, the Progress Check at 2 is vital in facilitating a smooth transition into school and fostering children’s long-term success.

Who is Involved?

The Progress Check at 2 is a collaborative effort between a child’s early years childcare provider, their parents and, if applicable, their health visitor and any external professionals that may be involved in the child’s early years learning and development.

The Role of Parents in the Progress Check at 2

The importance of parental involvement during a child’s early years education cannot be overstated. Such involvement is particularly invaluable to early years educators and childcare providers during the progress check. Ultimately, it is also crucially important to the child being assessed. Parents are therefore encouraged to share any observations or concerns that they may have regarding their child’s development. Their insights, combined with those of the child’s childcare/early years provider and those of any external professionals (if applicable), create a holistic picture of a child’s growth and progress. It thereby enables providers like Little Cedars Nursery to organise tailored support to address children’s specific needs most effectively.

The Report

Following the assessment, parents will receive a written summary of the report. This outlines their child’s achievements, strengths, and any areas for further development. The report serves as a valuable tool that allows all involved parties to track a child’s progress over time and to devise a plan of action to support their individual growth trajectory. It also serves as a basis for ongoing communication and collaboration between the childcare/early years provider and the child’s family.

To Sum Up

The Progress Check at 2 is a significant milestone in every child’s early development journey. At Little Cedars Nursery, we are committed to fostering a supportive and engaging environment that nurtures each child’s unique abilities. By actively participating in the progress check process, parents are ensuring that their child receives the necessary support and resources to absolutely flourish. Together, we can help children reach their full potential and prepare them for a successful educational journey ahead.

Little Cedars Nursery, Streatham

Little Cedars Nursery is a ‘Good Provider’ of Childcare & Early Years Education in Streatham

Ofsted rate Little Cedars Day Nursery as a Good ProviderLittle Cedars is a nursery & pre-school offering high quality childcare in Streatham, near Tooting, Tooting Bec, Tooting Common, Tooting Broadway, Furzedown, Balham, Norbury and Colliers Wood.

Little Cedars is a good nursery — and that’s official, says OfstedOur nursery and preschool are in Streatham, SW16 but are also conveniently close to Streatham Hill, Streatham Common, Streatham Park, Furzedown, Tooting, Balham, Norbury, Colliers Wood, West Norwood, Wandsworth, Clapham and Brixton. We may therefore suit families living or working in those locations.

At Little Cedars Nursery free childcare is available as all Government childcare funding schemes are supported for eligible families (follow the bold links for more information).

Please choose a button below if you’d like to apply for a nursery place for your child, ask a question or arrange a guided tour to see how well your child would fit in. We’ll be delighted to help!

A Clarification:

The ‘Progress Check at 2’  is Different to the ‘2-Year Review’ — but they’re Intertwined

As well as the ‘Progress Check at 2’, there is another, related assessment called the ‘2-Year Review’. Although both occur around the same age, they each serve distinct purposes. In contrast to the Progress Check at 2, the 2-Year Review is more about the child’s health and well-being. It is undertaken by healthcare professionals such as health visitors and assesses overall health. This includes things like immunisation status, physical and mental development, well-being, and parental support. Although separate, the two reviews share overlapping areas and, for that reason, are often conducted simultaneously. The result is thereby a more comprehensive understanding of the child’s development at this key age.

* To avoid repetition in this article and for the sake of brevity, the term ‘parents’ is used as a placeholder for parents, guardians or caregivers.

Free Butterfly-Spotting Activity Poster for Children.

See high resolution detail when you zoom in on the butterfly images in the poster. Following on from our bird-spotting article and poster published in March, we now bring you a matching butterfly-spotting activity. Butterflies are both beautiful and adorable. As such, children will love them and will enjoy spending time around them during this activity. Like before, it comes with another free poster for children to print out, display, learn from and enjoy. Butterfly spotting is another wonderful way to get children outdoors to enjoy the fresh air and benefit from everything that nature has to offer.

This time around, we showcase 36 beautiful butterflies that can be seen in many parts of Britain. Indeed, that was one of the main criteria we used when deciding which butterflies to include. Having said that, some of the butterflies will be more common than others and we really don’t expect every child to spot all 36 butterflies that are featured — although it’s possible if they’re patient and adventurous! It’s a lovely challenge for children, though, and spotting such beautiful creatures may begin to instil in them an appreciation of nature and all the amazing creatures within it. That would be a good thing because nature is more under threat than ever and children of today will eventually become custodians of Britain’s phenomenal natural environment. Nature will also benefit children in many profound ways, including spiritually and even academically.

Free Butterfly Poster

Identify 36 different British Butterflies using our free A3 reference poster — it's educational and fun for children.

Download Instructions

View the poster in the greatest detail onscreen by clicking the big image above or, with some web browsers, you may need to first download it by right-clicking and then saving. Then view it in Acrobat Reader, which is available free. From Acrobat, print out the poster at full size (A3) or choose ‘reduce to fit’ if your printer is only A4. We recommend using high-quality printing paper and the highest settings for the best results, glorious colour, and the finest detail.

Attract butterflies by putting out fruit wedges — they love the sugary taste of ripe oranges, grapefruits, nectarines, bananas, strawberries and apples!

Shown on the poster are some of the more commonly-known butterflies like Large Whites, Peacocks, Red Admirals and Small Tortoiseshells. However, children may also spot some lesser-known butterflies like Purple Emperors, Orange Tips, Green Hairstreaks and Adonis Blues. Butterflies have wonderful names, don’t they? Parents can help younger children with names, as we don’t expect them to be able to read them all if they’re very young. The young will also need supervising outdoors, of course, for their safety.

Look but Don’t Touch the Butterflies

For the poster, we’ve chosen the butterflies most likely to be found widely in the UK. This is a Small Tortoiseshell butterfly.We must also add that children should be encouraged to ‘look but don’t touch’ as butterflies are very delicate creatures. Children should not try to touch or catch them — they are best left in peace as every one of them is a little individual that simply wants to go about his or her day. They’re wonderful to watch, though, and our free poster should help children and adults identify many of the different types. Perhaps see how many different species can be spotted over the course of a year. Take photos too, and compare them with friends! Some butterflies visit gardens, floral window boxes and parks while others may only be found in wilder locations in the countryside. This activity is therefore a great excuse for families to get out and explore The Great Outdoors! Recording the date and location of each butterfly spotted will also help families work out where the best butterfly-spotting locations are for next time.

Fun fact: Butterflies have taste buds on their feet!

Butterflies are In Decline

Sadly, many butterflies are in decline, with studies reporting a 40% drop in populations in recent decades. That’s really sad, so it’s imperative that they and their precious habitats are not unduly disturbed. Therefore, please do take care. If anything, habitats need to be restored and greater protections put in place. Raising awareness of the plight of butterflies and other creatures in decline, like bees and birds, is therefore something that’s also important for children to be aware of. After all, as they grow older, they will eventually take over stewardship of the natural world and can help to steer decision-makers to improve things if they’ve developed a deep-seated interest in nature by the time they become adults.

The Big Butterfly Count

The Big Butterfly CountWith that in mind, why not take this activity a step further and get involved in the UK’s annual Big Butterfly Count? For 2023, it takes place between Friday the 14th of July and Sunday the 6th of August, which is when most butterflies are at their adult stage. All it takes is 15 minutes and children will love being little ‘citizen scientists’! The activity can be done in gardens, parks, school grounds or out in the countryside. Taking part will give children a real opportunity to help with butterfly conservation.

Learn more about the Big Butterfly Count here. The page includes links to a free smartphone app that will help you/your children during the butterfly counting activity.

A Fun, Educational & Worthwhile Activity for Children

We hope families and children enjoy their butterfly-spotting activities and use our free poster to learn the names. In this way, they can get to recognise some of the different types of butterflies when they spot them when out and about. It’s a fascinating activity and butterflies are both amazingly beautiful and incredibly endearing. As pollinators, they’re extremely important too and represent a barometer for the health of the natural world. Learning more about butterflies and nature is therefore incredibly important and beneficial for children — and ultimately for the planet. So, we encourage children to dive into this activity at the earliest opportunity. Have fun, be gentle and stay safe.

Little Cedars Nursery & Preschool, Streatham, London SW16

Little Cedars is a nursery & preschool offering high quality childcare in Streatham, near Tooting, Tooting Bec, Tooting Common, Tooting Broadway, Furzedown, Balham, Norbury and Colliers Wood.Ofsted rate Little Cedars Day Nursery as a Good ProviderLittle Cedars is a high-quality nursery/preschool in Streatham SW16, providing childcare excellence for babies, toddlers and preschoolers under 5 years of age. If you’re looking for a good nursery or preschool for your child, arrange a free tour with us and we’ll show you and your little one around. You’ll be able to get answers to any questions you have and also you’ll see how well your child fits in. Ours is a lovely, welcoming, home-from-home environment where the very best is brought out of every child under our care, so your child will be in good hands. As well as looking after them while parents work or recharge, every child receives an excellent early years education and is prepared for a great start once they leave us to start school. Please choose a button to contact us today, arrange a guided tour or to apply for a place for your child; we’ll be happy to help.

Little Cedars Nursery: high-quality childcare services in Streatham, near Furzedown, Tooting, Balham, Norbury and Colliers Wood

Little Cedars is located in Streatham, just a stone’s throw from Tooting Common and the A214. As well as suiting those families in Streatham and Tooting, we may also be conveniently located for those looking for a nursery or preschool near Streatham Hill, Streatham Park, Streatham Common, Furzedown, Tooting Bec, Tooting Broadway, Balham, Norbury or Colliers Wood.

Rough Guide to Free Childcare for Children in England (2023 Edition)

Today we provide a rough guide to free childcare schemes available in England. There are many different ways eligible families can obtain at the very least some free childcare, so today we look at the various Government schemes and options available. The good news is that there is even one that’s available to pretty much everyone — and it’s quite generous. We’ll take a look at that childcare funding scheme first.

‘Universal’ Free Childcare Hours for 3- & 4-Year-Olds

(The “15 Hours” Scheme)

Up to 570 Free Childcare Hours Available

  • With Universal Free Childcare, children aged 3 or 4 can receive up to 570 hours of free childcare over the course of the year.With Universal Free Childcare, children aged 3 or 4 can receive up to 570 hours of free childcare over the course of the year.
  • Also known as their Free entitlement, it typically equates to 15 hours of free childcare per week over the course of 38 weeks of the year.
  • Some childcare providers may be able to stretch the hours out in a different pattern if it better suits families.
  • The childcare would be available through a nursery, preschool or childminder that’s properly registered to offer free childcare places, plus some other types of provider.

Eligibility

Universal free childcare is not means tested and all children aged 3 and 4 living in England are eligible to receive the free hours. 3- and 4-year-olds moving to England from abroad are also entitled, even without British citizenship. Eligible children can start their free childcare in the term following their 3rd birthday.

How to Apply

Families should apply through their local childcare provider. If you live/work in Streatham and are interested in your child getting their free entitlement at Little Cedars Nursery, please apply here or get in touch to discuss a nursery place with us. You can also find out more about childcare funding via your local council (you can find yours here).

‘Extended’ Free Childcare Hours for 3- & 4-Year-Olds

(The “30 Hours” Scheme)

Up to 1140 Free Childcare Hours Available

  • With Extended Free Childcare, eligible 3- and 4-year-olds can receive up to 1140 hours of free childcare per year.With Extended Free Childcare, eligible 3- and 4-year-olds can receive up to 1140 hours of free childcare per year instead of only 570.
  • Also known as 30 hours’ free childcare, it typically equates to 30 hours of free childcare each week over 38 weeks.
  • As before, however, some childcare providers may be able to offer a different pattern of hours each week, for example if families prefer to take the free hours over 51 weeks of the year rather than limit them to term time only.
  • As with the Universal scheme, the free childcare would be available through a nursery, preschool or childminder that’s properly registered to offer free childcare places, plus some other types of provider.

Eligibility

In contrast to the Universal scheme above, Extended free childcare for children in England aged 3 and 4 is means tested and there are quite a few additional rules around eligibility. These relate to income, job status, immigration status, and your child’s circumstances. In regard to income, generally speaking, eligibility requires that the parent(s) – or a single parent and their partner – are working and are each earning at least £8,668 per annum (less if aged under 23) but less than £100,000. The lower figure is based on 16 working hours per week on at least the National Minimum Wage or Living Wage. There are several exceptions to the general guidelines, though, and it is therefore wise to consult the more detailed eligibility information available here.

How to Apply

Applications for the Extended (30 hours) free childcare scheme must be made online via the Government website. Children are eligible to start using their free childcare in the term following their 3rd birthday, but parents can apply for it once they reach the age of 2 years and 36 weeks. Don’t leave your application too late because a code will be required in order for your childcare provider to access the childcare funding and you need to know that code in the month preceding the start of the term your child joins. The code will also need to be reconfirmed once every quarter.

Free Childcare for Disadvantaged 2-Year-Olds

Up to 570 Free Childcare Hours Available

  • Some disadvantaged children aged 2 can receive up to 570 hours of free childcare over the course of the year.Some disadvantaged children aged 2 can also receive up to 570 hours of free childcare over the course of the year.
  • This usually equates to 15 hours of free childcare each week over 38 weeks of the year.
  • As with some the schemes above, some childcare providers may be able to spread the hours out in a different way, e.g. less hours per week over more weeks of the year.
  • The childcare would be available through a nursery, preschool or childminder that’s properly registered to offer free childcare places, plus some other types of provider.

Eligibility

In order to be eligible, children’s parents/carers must be in receipt of one or more qualifying Government benefits. These include JSA, ESA, Income Support and Universal Credit amongst others. Household income and any savings must also fall below certain thresholds.

Children may also be eligible, however, if they are in an ‘additional needs’ category. For example, they receive Disability Living Allowance, have an ECH Plan, are being looked after by the local authority, have left care under certain types of order, or fall into another specific category. Some non-UK citizens may also be eligible. More details are available here.

How to Apply

You can apply via your local childcare provider or council.

Tax-Free Childcare

£2,000 to £4,000 in Free Childcare Potentially Available

  • Up to £2,000 in free childcare (£4,000 if disabled) is available each year to eligible children aged 11 or under through the Tax-Free Childcare scheme.For those that are eligible, up to £2,000 in free childcare is available each year to children aged 11 or under* through the Tax-Free Childcare scheme.
  • For disabled children up to the age of 16 inclusive*, up to £4,000 may be available.
  • The funding is paid into a special online Childcare account and equates to a maximum of either £500 or £1,000 per quarter, as appropriate.

* Children are no longer eligible from 1st September in the year that they are 11 years of age, or 16 if disabled.

The free childcare funding is funded by the Government via the online Childcare account, which the parent (or even their relative or friend) pay into. For every £8 they pay in, the Government will top up the account by an additional £2, up to the maximum(s) described above. The funding is paid from the account direct to the registered childcare provider, who must be signed up to the scheme. It can be used for no other purpose.

Eligibility

This particular scheme is quite widely available. Although it is means tested, the bar is set quite high. Each parent (or a parent and their partner if they have one) can be earning up to £100,000 per year yet be eligible. Generally speaking, they should also be earning no less than the equivalent of 16 working hours per week on at least the National Minimum Wage or Living Wage, although there are exceptions to the rule.

Aside from household income and the age of children, which we covered above, there are additional rules around eligibility relating to job status, immigration status, and your child’s circumstances. More information is available here.

How to Apply

You can apply for Tax-Free Childcare here.

Childcare Vouchers

(Closed to New Applicants)

A.k.a. Employer-Supported Childcare

  • You can sacrifice up to £55 per week of your earnings, which will be free of National Insurance and Income Tax, to fund Childcare Vouchers.You can sacrifice up to £55 per week of your earnings, which will be free of National Insurance and Income Tax, to fund Childcare Vouchers.
  • Closed to new applicants but see the Eligibility section below for more information.

Eligibility

This scheme is still available, through participating employers, but only to those who joined it before 4 October 2018. However, it is closed to new applicants. Exactly how much of your earnings you can use in this salary sacrifice scheme will depend on the date you joined the scheme and how much you earn.

More information is available here.

Free Childcare Through Universal Credit

  • Childcare funding through Universal Credit is set to be improved with nearly 50% more generous funding becoming available from July 2023.Following the Spring Budget 2023, childcare funding through Universal Credit is to be improved with nearly 50% more generous funding becoming available from July 2023.
  • The proposed changes will also mean that the childcare funding will be pre-paid by the Government from that date, rather than families having to pay for it first and then claim it back (as is the case at time of writing, April 2023).
  • This funding will increase to as much as £951 per month for one child or £1,630 per month for 2, from July 2023. Before that date the maximums are £646.35 and £1,108.04 respectively.
  • The maximum eligible families can claim, however, is 85% of their childcare costs, which for some may be lower than the figures stated above.

Eligibility

You or your partner, if you have one, must usually be working, be on a low income and claiming Universal Credit. The child you are claiming free childcare for must be under 17. How much you earn and the level of any investments and savings you might have will be taken into account when you claim and other criteria and caveats will also affect your eligibility.

Read more about the changes to free childcare through Universal Credit proposed in the Spring Budget here and learn more about free childcare through Universal Credit here.

How to Apply

You can apply for Universal Credit here or call them on 0800 328 5644.

Free Childcare Through Tax Credits

(Closed to New Applicants)

Claim Back up to 70% of Childcare Costs if Eligible

  • Claim back up to 70% of childcare costs through Tax Credits.Those already claiming for childcare costs via Working Tax Credits may be able to obtain up to £122.50 for one or £210.00 for more than one child each week.
  • This is up to a maximum of 70% of eligible childcare costs.
  • Funding is paid, retrospectively, to the parent/carer’s bank/building society account.

Eligibility

As this scheme is closed to new applicants, new claimants will need to apply for free childcare through Universal Credit instead (details are shown above). Existing claimants will need to use an approved childcare provider (properly registered etc.) that provides the childcare in person, not online.

More information is available here.

Free Childcare for Children Aged from 9 Months

(Coming Soon)

The Chancellor of the Exchequer proposed radical improvements to childcare funding in his 2023 Spring Budget in March 2023. These include the following additions for eligible children of working parents:

  • Free childcare will soon be available for eligible children aged from just 9 months.2-year-olds may be eligible for the ’15 Hours’ scheme from April 2024.
  • Children aged from just 9 months may be eligible for the ’15 Hours’ scheme from September 2024.
  • Children aged from 9 months to 3 years may become eligible for the ’30 Hours’ scheme from September 2025.
  • Eligibility for the above will follow the same criteria as currently in place for the existing ’30 hours’ scheme (a.k.a. Extended Free Childcare) for 3- and 4-year-olds.

Learn more about the coming changes to childcare funding for children aged from 9 months here.

Student Childcare Grants

Undergraduate Students Can Receive up to 85% of Childcare Costs

  • Undergraduate students can receive up to 85% of childcare costs, if eligible, through a Student Childcare Grant.Up to 85% of childcare costs incurred by students may be claimed, up to a maximum of £188.90 per week for 1 child or £323.85 for 2 or more (correct for academic year 2023-2024).
  • For the academic year 2022-2023, the figures are £183.75 and £315.03 respectively.
  • The grant is paid into a Childcare Grant Payment Service (CCGPS) account and the childcare provider will request payments from this, usually weekly, as appropriate.

Eligibility

Eligibility rules include the following:

  • You need to be a full-time student studying in higher education and living permanently in England;
  • You need to be eligible for undergraduate student finance based on income, which must be under a certain threshold;
  • You cannot have a postgraduate loan nor be claiming other specific types of childcare funding, including childcare help from the NHS;
  • Your child must be financially dependent on you;
  • Your child should be under 15 (17 if they have special educational needs).
  • Other caveats apply.

More information is available here.

How to Apply

You can apply for the Student Childcare Grant at the same time as applying for your main student finance.

Childcare Funding via the Care to Learn Scheme

Up to £175 per child per week may be available.

  • Funding through the Care to Learn scheme can be used to fund childcare, childcare deposit and registration fees, childcare taster days/sessions and even travel to/from the provider.Up to £160 per child is available each week for those living outside London.
  • For those inside London, that increases to a maximum of £175 per child each week.
  • The payment can be used to fund childcare, childcare deposit and registration fees, childcare taster days or sessions and even travel to/from the provider.

Eligibility

You will need to be under 20 when you begin your course, be your child’s main carer, live in England and be a British citizen (or legally be allowed to live/study in England). Your properly-registered childcare provider and the course you are studying on will need to qualify for the scheme. Courses will need to be publicly-funded ones, provided in specific types of setting including sixth form schools/colleges, schools, colleges and other types of provider. However, they cannot be higher education courses at universities. Attendance of both the course by the student and of childcare sessions by the child will need to be good in order to continue to qualify.

More information is available here.

How to Apply

Apply for the Care to Learn scheme here.

Childcare Funding via the Learner Support Scheme

Suitable for Over-20s Studying in Further Education

  • Childcare funding through the Learner Support Scheme is suitable for over-20s studying in further education.While it’s not designed to fund childcare, it can be used to do so in some circumstances.
  • Your specific circumstances will govern exactly what help and how much funding is available to you.

Eligibility

If used to fund childcare, the Learner Support Scheme is suitable for students studying in further education to Level 3 inclusive. They must be parents and also be facing financial hardship in order to qualify. The childcare provider must be registered with Ofsted.

More information is available here.

How to Apply

Student parents should apply through their learning provider, e.g through the college they are studying at.

It’s worth noting that some of the schemes above can be used in tandem with one another, while others strictly cannot. Check the links for more information about each for more details.

Little Cedars Nursery, Streatham

High Quality Childcare Provision for Babies, Toddlers & Preschoolers in Streatham

Ofsted rate Little Cedars Day Nursery as a Good ProviderLittle Cedars is a nursery & pre-school offering high quality childcare in Streatham, near Tooting, Tooting Bec, Tooting Common, Tooting Broadway, Furzedown, Balham, Norbury and Colliers Wood.Little Cedars is officially a good nursery/pre-school and offers high quality childcare in Streatham, London SW16. Subject to eligibility and availability, we support Government childcare funding schemes for babies, toddlers, preschoolers and children under five at the setting.

If you haven’t yet visited, why not bring your little one for a guided tour and you’ll soon see how well they fit in. We’re happy to answer any questions and would welcome your application for a childcare place.  Please get started with your application or contact us using an option below and we’ll be delighted to help:

We are located in Streathamclose to Streatham Hill, Streatham Common, Streatham Park, Furzedown, Tooting, Balham, Norbury, Colliers Wood, West Norwood, Wandsworth, Clapham and Brixton.