Give your child the best start
Last updated at 17:21, Friday, 26 February 2010
Choosing the right nursery education for your child can seem like a daunting task. It may be one of the first experiences your child has of learning outside your home.
However, there is lots of information available to help make this process easier. Each of these stages have “early learning goals”, which set out the skills, understanding, knowledge and attitudes it is hoped children will reach by the end of the Foundation Stage.
Every three and four-year-old in Cumbria is entitled to a free place in a nursery or pre-school that meets the requirements for providing the Foundation Stage curriculum.
The local authority currently funds a part-time nursery place from the start of the term after a child is three. This means every child can attend nursery for at least a year before they start school. Depending on the age of a child, there will be a variation in the time which can be spent in nursery prior to being old enough to start school.
Some nursery places are available in local authority nurseries. Others are in pre-school playgroups or private nurseries which are registered to provide nursery education, or an approved childminder.
Whichever it is, it must have passed an assessment visit from the local education officer, which allows it to claim the nursery education grant.
This is in addition to the inspection carried out by the Office for Standards in Education (Ofsted).
The nursery education grant entitles your child to free, part-time nursery education which is based on the Foundation Stage Curriculum.
The grant pays for five two-and-a-half-hour sessions a week for 38 weeks per year, which start the term following the child’s third birthday.
Parents may choose to split this entitlement between different providers or choose for their child to take up less than their minimum entitlement.
Your child does not have to attend any care over and above the two-and-a-half-hour sessions if you do not wish them to.
If your child already has a place with a childcare provider who has passed the assessment to provide part-time nursery education, you will receive a reduction in your childcare fees from the term after they turn three to take advantage of the Nursery Education Grant.
If you want to apply for a nursery attached to a school, contact the school places team on 01228 606930, 601171 or 606999 and request an application form and information sheet.
For details of other kinds of nurseries not maintained by the local authority, contact the children’s information service on 08457 125737.
HOW DO I CHOOSE A NURSERY?
You should visit the place you intend to send your child to make sure that you are comfortable with the setting.
WHERE CAN MY CHILD GO FOR NURSERY EDUCATION?
During the Foundation Stage your child may attend a number of places either part time or full time. The government funds part-time Foundation Stage places through the Nursery Education Grant in:
- Nursery and reception classes
- Pre-schools / playgroups
- Day nurseries
- Accredited childminders in approved childminding networks.
All must have passed an assessment visit from a local education officer which allows them to claim the grant.
DOES MY CHILD HAVE TO ATTEND NURSERY EDUCATION?
Your child does not have to attend nursery education. The decision is yours until the term after their fifth birthday. It is at this point that the law states that all children must receive appropriate full-time education.
HOW DO I APPLY FOR A PLACE?
If you are applying to a local education authority nursery class or school, ring the school places team for an application form and information sheet. If you are applying to any other type of nursery provider you need to ask for an application form.
WHAT ARE THE ELIGIBILITY DATES FOR A NURSERY EDUCATION GRANT?
Each child is entitled to receive up to six terms of free nursery education before they reach statutory school age (the term after their fifth birthday).
Children become eligible at the start of the term following their third birthday. Children born between September 1 and December 31 become eligible for the nursery grant from the start of the spring term following their third birthday.
Children born between January 1 and March 31 become eligible for the nursery grant from the start of the summer term following their third birthday.
WHAT IF YOUR CHILD IS UPSET WHEN YOU LEAVE THEM AT NURSERY OR PRE-SCHOOL?
Your child may need some reassurance when they start nursery or pre-school.
You should talk through everything that is going to happen and let them know what time you are going to pick them up.
All children go through the stage of being clingy and upset and it may be that you just need to give your child time to settle and feel confident in their new surroundings.
It is likely that a few minutes after you have left, your child will probably be happily absorbed in something else.
Nevertheless, you should be able to visit your child at any time so you can see what he or she is doing. If the carer thinks it will unsettle your child, they can usually find a way for you to see without being seen.
FOUNDATION STAGE: A SOLID SCHOOL START
The Foundation Stage is for children aged three to five and is the first step in the National Curriculum. It covers the years they spend from the beginning of nursery or pre-school to the end of reception in primary school.
Children learn through lots of different activities and the Foundation Stage covers everything children do, see, hear or feel.
It builds on a child’s enjoyment of play and covers six areas of learning:
1. Personal, social and emotional areas of development: Your child will be encouraged to be self-confident, take an interest in things, know what their own needs are, tell the difference between right and wrong, and be able to dress and undress.
2. Communication, language and literacy: Your child will be encouraged to communicate confidently and clearly, enjoying stories, songs and poems, hearing and saying sounds, and linking them with the alphabet. They may begin to read and write words and learn to use a pencil.
3. Mathematical development: Your child will be encouraged to develop an understanding of maths through stories, songs, games and imaginative play. They will become comfortable with numbers and with ideas such as “heavier than” or “bigger than”. They will be aware of shapes and space.
4. Knowledge and understanding of the world: Your child will be encouraged to explore and find out about the world around them, asking questions about it. They will build with different materials, know about everyday technology and learn what it is used for. They will find out about different cultures and beliefs.
5. Physical development: Your child will be encouraged to move confidently, controlling their body and handling equipment. They will begin to develop an awareness of health which will include the importance of exercise and healthy eating.
6. Creative development: Your child will be encouraged to explore colours and shapes, try dance, make things, tell stories and make music.
A series of stepping stones describes their achievements and their progress towards the goals.
At the end of the Foundation Stage, each child will have a Foundation Stage Profile, describing their achievements towards the stepping stones and parents will be asked to contribute towards this. This is just a record of their progress as there are no tests or league tables at Foundation Stage.
Parents should get involved in the education of their child as soon as possible.
Here are some ways in which you can help with your child’s learning:
- Give them support and encouragement
- Take an interest in what goes on in the setting and talk about it at home
- Encourage your child to ask questions and to listen to others
- Encourage your child to use pens, pencils, paints and scissors
- Encourage your child to count, recognise shapes, colours and numbers
- Read to your child and help them to learn nursery rhymes
- Help out in the setting of and attending of events
- Provide opportunities to run, climb, slide, use balls and wheeled toys
- Praise their achievements, eg paintings, models and physical skills
- Contribute to topics, eg books, photographs, toys and natural materials
- Contribute to your child’s individual learning plan
CHILD CARE – YOUR CHOICES
The following childcare providers are registered and inspected by Ofsted:
- A childminder is self-employed and provides care in their own home. Some childminders can also provide free part-time nursery education
- A day nursery offers care and education for children aged up to five. Most are open from 8am until 6pm
- Many can provide free part-time nursery education. Some nurseries will care for older children during school holidays and offer before/after school care
- A pre-school offers sessional care and education to children from the age of two years and nine months to five. Sessions usually last two-and-a-half hours each day. Some groups offer extended or full day care. Most can provide free part-time nursery education.
- An out of school club offers care for older children after school and during holidays. Before-school care may also be provided. Some clubs collect children from local schools if not held on the premises. If a club operates for less than two hours a day it does not have to register with Ofsted
- A holiday playscheme provides play, activities and outings for older children during the school holidays
- A home childcarer is a registered childminder providing childcare in parents’ homes.
The following do not have to register with Ofsted:
- A nanny is someone you employ to care for your child in your own home. They can live with you or come to work daily
- An au pair is usually a foreign student who lodges with you and provides up to five hours of care for your child per day. They are usually 17-27 with no formal childcare training so they are better suited to older children. It is not advisable to give them sole responsibility for a young baby
- A parent’s help will look after your child in your own home. They do not usually have any formal childcare training
- A typical parent’s help who does not live in will pick up your child from school, take them home, make them a snack or evening meal and carry out some household tasks. They are paid an hourly rate
- A parent and toddler group provides a meeting place for adults while their children play together safely. Children can attend from birth to the age of five.
The Children’s Information Service can provide help and advice. Call 08457 125737.
First published at 12:32, Sunday, 25 May 2008
Published by http://www.cumberlandnews.co.uk
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