Domestic Abuse: help us to be heard by Jennifer Gilmour

As some of you may know I have a good friend and Author called Jennier Gilmour.

I got to know Jen via our nappy cake businesses over 4 year ago.

Jennifer has kindly sent me a feature on her next project, Clipped wings. Please take a read, I have yet to read Jens latest book (bad friend) as been so so busy since winning my award.

Please se take a look at this and her book is available on various publications.

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Domestic Abuse: Help us to be heard

The term ‘domestic abuse’ is currently high on the political and popularist agenda. Author, Jennifer Gilmour has spent the last 10 months speaking with survivors of domestic abuse in order to give a voice to their stories.

Jennifer, herself a survivor of domestic abuse, released her debut novel Isolation Junction last year. It is loosely based on her own experience of emotional abuse and coercive control by a former partner. The aim of book was to educate others of this hidden side of domestic abuse through a form of entertainment as a fictional novel.

As a result of reading her novel other survivors came forward to speak of their own experiences and Jennifer has collated these accounts into one book. The book, entitled ‘Clipped Wings’ was released last month to mark domestic violence awareness month.

Each ‘voice’ is speaks from their own experience and Jennifer believes that this is key to the continued work of raising awareness of this kind of behaviour, the effect it can have and by knowing that they are not alone, helping people to have the courage to move away from the perpetrators of such behaviour and to rebuild their lives.

‘Clipped Wings’ continues Jenny’s mission of raising awareness of domestic abuse and coercive control and to demonstrate that the statistic of 1 in 4 women and 1 in 6 men is indeed correct. Sadly, this kind of behaviour transcends the age groups with many young men and women entering into relationships dominated by unacceptably controlling behaviours. Jennifer says, “Together we are stronger and can work to eradicate this insidious and often unnoticed behaviour which is prevalent in an unacceptable number of relationships.”

In its first week Clipped Wings reached number 3 in the Kindle charts.

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What book reviewers have said about the book:

Jessica’s Reading Room
“Whilst it is heartbreaking to read some of the accounts and what the people went through in their relationships, it is ultimately an uplifting book. The stories are as much about courage and recovery as they are about violence and abuse.
I would say this book is a must read for anyone who wants to hear first hand how people can survive such terrible abuse and come through the other side”

Isabella May Author
“To pen ‘Isolation Junction’, her first novel, was one thing. But to then go on to compile an anthology, working with domestic violence survivors both female and male, from all walks of life and backgrounds; that was quite another. An emotional roller coaster in every sense of the word”

Life of a Nerdish Mum
“This isn’t an easy read, but it is an important one. Giving a voice to survivors makes the problem visible and it can help people who may be in a similar situation see that they are not alone and there can be a light at the end of the the tunnel. There is also advice given at the end of the book by Jennifer Gilmour who is a survivor herself, in case you may need it or know someone who does.”

Chocolate ’n’ Waffles
“Reading Clipped Wings is unsettling, upsetting, and it should be! Many of the victims talked about how they did not see the signs, how guilt eats them away, how hard it is to escape a prison with no bars. It made me sick, it made me want to punch someone very hard. But most importantly, it showed me, with their own words, how those men and women did not let go of life, despite everything. This is the most beautiful part of the book”

Website: http://www.jennifergilmour.com
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/isolationjunctionbook
Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/JenLGilmour
Huffington Post Blogger Profile: http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/author/jennifer-gilmour
Amazon UK profile: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Jennifer-Gilmour/e/B01LZDKOC7

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Why children need weekly outdoor outings to wild spaces. By Kay Woods

Feature blogger:

Why children need weekly outdoor outings to wild spaces
By Kay Woods, Forest Childcare Association

If children want to play outside of their own back gardens today they have to wait for an adult to take them. The world is not the same place as it was when Christopher Robin was allowed to wander around his 100 acre wood all day long, playing Pooh Sticks and climbing trees (gasp!) completely unsupervised! As a society for many reasons (from justified fears about traffic, to out-of-proportion fears about strangers) we no longer let children visit their local woodlands, fields or even parks by themselves. Children must be continually supervised, and sadly this means that very few get casual access to their local patch of nature to play alone or in wild places any more.
And the consequence: many children today are growing up missing out on a connection with the natural world. They don’t spend enough time outdoors and they are suffering the results including obesity, mental health problems and a growing inability to assess risk for themselves.
What all this means is that one of the key positive influences that parents and child care providers can give to the children they look after is time playing in the great outdoors. Children need adults to take them to ‘wild’ places and then they need adults to stand back and give them time, space and encouragement to explore on their own while they are there. Parents are busy, parents are working. Therefore the responsibility for taking children on these outings frequently falls to childcare providers to give children the experiences they might otherwise miss out on.

Weekly outdoor outings to ‘wild’ spaces have benefits for everyone
When I was a childminder I always took the childminded children on outdoor outings. Once a week, whatever the weather, we went somewhere outdoors. Our trips ranged from simple visits to the park, duck pond, and urban green spaces, to more planned trips to our local ‘wild’ areas like woods and nature reserves.
Outdoor outings contribute to learning and health. These benefits apply to me as well! I always said that being out in the woods with the children was one of my favourite parts of being a childminder. It was wonderful watching how alive the children became when they were exploring outdoors and how recharged I felt watching them play. I also felt great because I knew that when they are out in the woods with me, I was giving them a really great experience, better than the most expensive toy in our play room, and more special than anything they would be ‘learning’ in an overcrowded nursery room.
Lots of childminders feel exactly the same as me about the outdoors and outings, and understand how special the experiences that we can give to the children we look after are. Others may feel less confident about taking groups of children of mixed ages and abilities to the woods on their own. So I started the Forest Childcare Association to support and encourage other childcare providers to offer this ‘best practice’ policy of weekly outdoor outings to the children they look after.
It is not possible to roll back the clock and send children out to play alone and unsupervised in wild spaces as they would have done in the past. But this doesn’t mean that caring adults can’t offer children the next best thing by taking them on outdoor outings on a regular basis.

Child-led Learning
Outdoor outings have benefits to children regardless of their age. For babies, they will be intrigued by the sights, smells and sounds of the environment and reach out towards things that interest them and catch their attention. Toddlers want to explore the natural world around them by crawling and walking. Preschool children will explore more purposely, play games of imagination and enjoy challenging themselves outdoors.
You don’t have to plan anything complex to do with the children while you are out. Sometimes it’s fun to go on a scavenger hunt, or collect things, but other times the point of the trip is simply to be outside and experience the outdoors. As a childcare provider you can instruct them about important safety issues like not eating red berries, touching fungus, or stroking strange dogs, but most of what they need to ‘learn’ is for the children to discover for themselves.
They are learning about textures when they pick up a sharp rock. They are learning about the weather and self-care issues when they take their coat off because they are hot. They are counting conkers and acorns, learning about space and shape when they squeeze themselves under a branch, and learning that if they work together it is easier to shift a log than trying to do it alone.
Most importantly, they are learning the importance of not littering, respecting wildlife, trees and other people’s right to enjoy the outdoor space as well. They are learning an appreciation for the environment that they will take with them as they grow up.
Wherever children live, they need to spend time getting back to nature. Natural environments give children and the adults who look after them untold benefits in terms of health and wellbeing. Weekly outdoor outings is a “best-practice” goal that all childcare providers can aim for with some support, advice and a little encouragement.
Join the Forest Childcare Association and make a commitment to taking children on weekly outdoor outings or look for a Forest Childcare Provider for your under 5s

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When you join the Forest Childcare Association for just £15 I will send you a pack of information including risk assessments, links to the EYFS, all the forms and paperwork you need to make outings happen, plus 50 crafts and activities you can do with childminded children. You will also receive marketing tools to help you to use the idea of weekly outdoor outings to promote your childminding business.

 

OMG! I won !

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On the 8th October, I was in for two awards via Bizmums.

I was finalised for health and beauty mum of the year for my lash addiction business and exceptional service for my childminding.

The national conference and awards was help at the Manor House in Alsager.

I was a nervous wreak, in 2015, I attended with my parents this year I was braving it alone. Even though I knew Becky was with me I was still petrified. I knew a few other members of Bizmums would be there, a good friend Jennifer and others local to me but was a totally different feeling this time.

Ever since I was nominated for these awards, I have put a lot work into my self belief and done a lot with Feng Shui thanks to Patricia Lohan from Patricialohan. I was gunning to win.. I wanted it and did loads to help this happen, from manifesting, to writing affirmations and adding to my fame and reputation area…I knew my business was amazing… I knew it was greatly appreciated by the families and women using my services… I wanted it….

The conference day was amazing the buzz around was electric. Women connecting in person, after knowing each other virtually.

There was three guest speaker Sue Tonks, who talked to us all about talking to people, our common subjects as a typical Brit. Emma Privilege, taught us about mindset, the snooze button and have ten great tips, the be the 2nd time heard Emma and she still so grounded. She even managed to give the Boyfriend (who jode for afternoon, a verbal kick up the bum). Victoria Molyneux from the fashion trend, Want that Trend. (Where I have many a dress from) was so helpful in tips and seeing how fast her own business had taken off. Michelle had chosen  the speakers so well. Each one so modest in their success and still so easy to talk to.

The afternoon awards ceremony started there was 10 categories and each one of the finalists all deserved a win for their efforts, from business, to personal and charity efforts.

My health and beauty category came up and went but my goodness, I am so proud friend Michala Leyland and Jo Howarth were joint winners. I really can not be compared to them and the changes they have both made to other people’s lives.

Within the Exceptional service award, I again was up with Michala and many other inspiring mums. I was sitting with Becky and just pointed in the programme to the winner  “clean sweep here, Michala will have this”

Oh how I was wrong… My god I was in shock, when I heard the reason to winner…I twigged on it was referred to me…. It still gives little shivers now listening to the video now.

Here’s link to see via my Facebook, Winner video 

I was in total shock, shaking and crying, I run my childminding business the way I needed a childcare provider while going through a divorce. I knew it was greatly needed by many families. I final felt the childcare sector was being recognised and considered, as a valuable service to families and children.

I must really thank all the families who use my service as without them it would just be an idea trying to get off the ground. Thank them all for completing service questionnaires to show how the business really does help them and their individual needs. Here is some of their kind words.

“We choose Steph for a number of reasons. We quickly realised that nurseries wouldn’t suit our needs for budget and flexibility. Being selfemployed, I required one flexible day per week childcare at the time of looking. Steph could accommodate this and understood our requirements” mum of two in my care.

“Stephs childminding has helped us so much as a RAF family, my kids were nervous to go to a ‘strangers’ house, they have Confidance issues, Steph changed all that with her up beat personality and enthusiasm…she is very flexible with her working hours which is fantastic for my shift changes” Mum of 2.

These words and words from other families and friends after the awards just go to show that the hard work is paying off. That more and more families work less 9-5 jobs and more more flexibility, than the usual structures childcare provider.

I set out 3years ago to provide a valuable service to the new modern day families, and I am achieving this well. To a go degree I have no more room to offer my service out to this high level. With Ofsted restrictions and two of my own children, it’s a balancing act daily, however an extremely rewards one. Seeing the changes I have made in the parents lives, watching some of these children bloom from babies to three years olds speaks volumes to me. The excitements they bring each morning on drop off says it all too.

I want ant to say a final thank you to my friends and family who have highly supported me on this 3 year journey, the families who access my services and Jo Howrath for the regognition via Bizmums awards and Michelle Child’s and Stacey Knight-Jones for bringing Bizmums to my local area.

To find out more about Bizmums and how it can help you or another lady in business check it out here. Bizmums main site

Patricia Lohan and feng shui mastery http://patricialohan.com

 

 

Yikes I’m a finalist

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Earlier this years I was notified I had been nominated for four awards via Bizmums, well a few months ago, I recieved notice that I was finalised for two of these.

My lashaddiction business has made to final for the health and beauty mum of the year and my childminding got in for exceptional service awards.

If you were following my Facebook at the time of finding out these results you would have seen I was an emotional wreak, even my Mam got to see this video and she not on Facebook so clearly reached a lot of people lol.

I am still in utter shock that I had made it far enough to be nominated, those people who did thank you so kindly, and a huge thank you to all families in my care who helped me with more kind words so I could add submitting evidence as to why I should be considered to finalised.

My main passion in life is childcare, I have always been in it and left school at 16 to follow this career, fully qualified by 18 and got 1st job in a day nursery, while rest my friends were only finishing A-levels and thinking of college or uni. My career was only just starting.

Now at the age of 30, I ahve really settled into creating the perfect business, the children are the focus of this business. When I set up at 27, I knew I needed to so how provide care for families who were not the average 9til 5 worker, who had no other help from family or friends.

As this was me, I needed part time childcare on a part time flexible price but unable to get this anywhere. I knew the traditional system needed to change, I mean how many families live close to their work now, or can finish at a time and garantee to be at their childcare provider for 6pm…. Not many now a days.

The way I run my childminding started of extremely flexible, I was offering a drop off and pick up system and working late nights and weekends, then I started to see more and more need for early am starts, service to school who had no other provider, families who had shift patterns or childcare needed just 1 day a week.

Slowly I grew and grew, taken full occupancy withing 6months of setting up. Each family on a totally different contract and different payment days. This was reflected in my nomination

“The way Stephanie has tailored her service,she has allowed parents to go to work in their dreamed profession, offering shift workers flexibility with no hidden costs. Families only pay for the childcare used, which is a great help to them working, enjoy life and securely financing their childcare bills.” Thank you to who ever sent it.

All the families have found this type of system invaluable.

“Steph is a great childminder, who is very flexible and always on hand to help, if it wasn’t for Steph I wouldn’t be able to do my job and look after my daughter” father of 1.

“Stephs childminding has helped us so much as a RAF family, my kids were nervous to go to a strangers house, they had Confidance issues, Steph changed all that with herupbeat personality, and enthusiasm to give the boys special memories…Steph very flexible with working hours, which is fantastic for when my shifts change” Mum of 2.

“…we quickly realised that nurseries wouldn’t suit our needs for budget and flexibility, being self employed I needed 1flexi day per week childcare, Steph could accommodate and understand this need…when our second daughter arrived we had no doubts about where the best place for her would be…our daughter has flourished under Stephs  passion for creating stimulating and engaging play” Mum of 2.

These extremyl kind and touching words are proof, of why I run my childminding the way I do, and know it’s needed.

I see all children within my care as my own, the activities I provide change per child and all children can reach their full potential, the hot meals on nights ensure the home from home and ppfamily time was till there even tho they are my extended family, even asked for take away tea as food so yummy, heheh.

Just knowing I am providing what I want the way I want is great, I will msay I am still not graded by Ofsted, but when they do visit I will sure to pass on these comments from parent ps so they can see the true scale of my care rather than the snap shot they see when visit.

To be recognised by others outside my business is great too, I have been connected with Bizmums for a number of years now, however they have never really seen my work in practice, but feel that being finalised for the exceptional service they have had the door opened to see what really happens here and the impact it has made on many families and individuals.

I am up against a lot of other amazing Women for this award and many who have such a bigger business than me e.g. Life coaches and I am only one in this type of industry. But even tho I am small, just me running my business and full to my regulators. I see myself a lot bigger within my industry, I know this type childcare is needed and I know there is demand to expand, however I know what’s wanted as a Mother myself, not everyone wants the big settings, the larger space to fill them up, I am personal, know alll my children really well, their moods, likes and dislikes, what makes them tick. I get this from being small, being home from home, being us…

The awards are on the 8th Oct and really looking forward to the day, catching up with virtual friends and making new. And even if I do not win I know I am a winner in myself and the eyes of the families with my care.

If you wish to see my first responce to these awards, it’s here,

 

Grace House, children’s crafts

If you read my blog on the childrens First aid workshops you will have seen I mentioned Sarah.

Well who is Sarah, Sarah Jones is a mum of 4 children and meet her again via Bizmums. On first meeting she talked about her bespoke art work, then another meeting on setting up her new venture, and how she was trusted with a return of money from an event, to reinvest it back into a dream they had.

Well Sarah really did do well in this reinvestment and in Aug this year Sarah has set up her own studio and venue called Grace House, based in Stafford. The idea is to be able to provide a events venue, workshop and event all at a affordable cost.

In the summer holidays to were invited to an ‘wing it wednesday’ children’s workshop. so off I popped with my own two and friends.

The session lasted 2hours and was all aimed around a wing themed craft, today we were making 3d wooden butterflies. The children and I worked with each other to create their own butterfly, Sarah provided all the materials, snack and hot drink for us adults.

Sarah was on hand the whole time to help, and dried our pieces to ensure no mark on way home in car etc. Sarah also gave great tip from her own artist background, like standing to work as helps you flow.

Later in the holidays, I teamed up with Heather and Sarah to provide venue for our first aid course and Sarah again offered us a craft work shop after. Today they created winged canvas prints.

Again Sarah was exceptional in providing all the children with great tips (many will use at home too), everything was provided for and this time had lush butterfly biscuits and caterpillar cakes as snack as the children creations were drying.

Outside Sarah has some giant hand chalked angel selfie wings which the children loved using as well as a huge chalk board for great creativeness.

These craft sessions vary in prices and times, but I can say well worth it and the bonding you gain extra with your children is priceless, esp if you are like some parents and limited creative things at home, this is a places to allow your children creativity out.

Sarah has a range of events on offer now from children’s workshops in school holidays and adults sessions on a Thursday evening, highly recommend you popping by. As well as finding out about her children’s party offers, great value for money.

More information on Grace house can be found at

FB: https://www.facebook.com/gracehouseart.co/

events: https://www.facebook.com/pg/gracehouseart.co/events/?ref=page_internal

Sarah has also offered her venue to Stafford Bizmums monthly meeting, (1st Monday the month 10-11.30). where like minded mums in business can network and children can play. More can be found out here.

https://www.facebook.com/Bizmums.biz/?ref=br_rs

web: http://www.bizmums.biz

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Children’s First aid workshops

Children’s Workshop

During the school holiday I am always looking for extra and different activities to provide for the school children.

My daughter attends a local brownies unit and while looking through her badges book I notices First Aid, well as a childminder I have always been fully trained in pediatric First Aid.

A few months earlier I met Heather Bird via Bizmums who set up her own training company around first aid, so I put her to the challenge. Could she create a children’s training around first aid also meeting the criteria and assess Ava-May ability for her Brownies badge….as well as teaching the other children life saving skills….

I took my own two children and three I child-minded as well as friends children. The aim was to teach seven children from 5years to 11. Well that 7 went to 15, including children of Sarahs and her friends children. Sarah also another Bizmum member allowed us to take over her studio and what a great venue that was (more in another blog about Sarah).

Well I can say Heather did not fail on this challenge…. WOW… not only did Heather meet criteria for the first aid but also the advance badge. Heather had never trained children but with teaching backgrounds and a mum herself, she did an amazing job.

The children covered areas like:

*who and how to ring for help, what they many be asked to know

*what to look for is find a casualty

*what to do if someone get a cut or embedded item

*how to put someone in recovery position

*how to dress wounds and head injuries

Heather kept the 2 hours session, fun and lively, as well as fun tests to check their understanding and also allowed the children to engage in sharing their own experiences and children with asthma were able to help teach the others how to help them and know different signs and symptoms. Meaning the session was greatly children lead and so informative.

The children I took to get the Brownies First Aid badge and others who wanted to know more about CPR were also trained in this, meaning the Brownies will also now get the First Aid advance badge. A Great pleasure to them.

“I loved wrapping my friends up in bandages” Charlotte, age 8.

“I loved the CPR and didn’t have to give mouth to mouth to a dummy but knew could still help someone”, Jack aged 11.

This workshop was great fun and even refreshed my own knowledge, I would highly recommend anyone to do some first aid training for them selves and their children, even combing the two and develop them bonds further with your child.

From the Success of this test run workshop Heather is now running these and if your child attends Brownies, Guides, Scouts or Cubs and needs First Aid certified trained teacher for these badges, please let Heather know.

For more information on Heather Children’s and other First aid and Health and Safety courses, please visit.

FB: https://www.facebook.com/hmbtrainingservices/

events: https://www.facebook.com/pg/hmbtrainingservices/events/?ref=page_internal

Website: http://www.hmbtrainingservices.co.uk

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What childcare options are out there!?

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Here’s a little low down on childcare options available, when thinking and looking for childcare.

NANNY

An individual person who is responsible for your child’s well being, safety, and supervision. Levels of experience and education will vary. A nanny typically watches your child in your home. No degree, license or experience is required in order to become a Nanny. However some do have training and their own insurance. They would be employed to you so your responsible for paying them, pensions and other expenses related.

Au pair

An Au pair is very similar to a Nanny however Au Pairs come from a foreign country and typically reside in your home. These can be live in or live out and can do further jobs to help you e.g. House work etc. These be worked out between yourselves and angin like a nanny your responsible for paying wages etc.

Childminder

Childminder are childcare run typically by one individual in their own home. They willoften offer care to several different families with children in different age groups. Follow EYFS and registered with Ofsted, some are trained in childcare some not. However guided now to have some for childcare training and sometimes does alongside running their childminding. These can cater for children birth to up to 12, each minder runs different hours and day and often based around their own family needs. Government help via childcare element of tax credits available to those eligible

Day nurseries

Nurseries usually provide full time care for children from birth to five years. Some may not include infant care and others may include after school programs. These again government by Osfted and work to the EYFS. Quiet often open most weeks of the years and often closed bank holidays. Government help via childcare element of tax credits available to those eligible.

Preschools

preschools often take children from age 3 to 5years. They are registered with Ofsted and follow the EYFS too. Sometimes ran school times and terms some can be seperate or linked to school or day nursery. (Check out my nursery vers preschool blog too)

GRANDPARENTS OR OTHER FAMILY

Family members can also be another great option for childcare. especially if you live close and are able to help. There not guidelines for these providing help and no fiancial support to parents, although you do not have childcare fees.

Tips.

*When thinking and looking at childcare options do your research, ask around.

*Know your needs and wishes and your child’s individual personality and needs.

*If looking at registered providers looks at the ofsted reports but also follow your gut feelings and sometimes ofsted inspections only see and get feeling of what’s happening there and then and their judgement.

*See what fiancial help you can get from tax credits, funded places. More found here, https://www.childcarechoices.gov.uk website can be temperamental.

*when visiting providers try go during the day often will allow this but have seen others who do not. This will give you a good feeling p, see how they run and other children within the setting.

*Ask questions, they only way you will find out the information you want, not just been told what they want you to know.

*when using paid for childcare know there fee payment plans and dates, so you prepared and works alongside you fiances.

 

Nursery vers preschool?!

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As a childminder and previous working in day nurseries, I often get asked what’s difference between nursery and a preschool?! Should my child be in pre school now they are 3?! Here is my views.

Honestly there is no great difference… Childminders, nurseries and preschool and reception classes, all work from the same frame work the Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS) this is a statutory framework setting the “standards for the learning, development and care of children from birth to 5 years old. All schools and Ofsted-registered early years providers must follow the EYFS, including childminders, preschools, nurseries and school reception classes.”

More about that here http://www.foundationyears.org.uk/eyfs-statutory-framework/

Some nurseries have pre school within them some call the room or class where children ages 3-5yrs the “preschool”. These will often provide the 3year funding for families and additional childcare topped up around it. These can provide care on full day basis e.g. 7.30am til 6pm most weeks of the year.

Some school have “preschools” attached, some of these may only be open school term and school hours. Some like one attached to my children’s school. Use the other school facilities e.g. Dinning hall. Some do not. Some of these school based preschools often help provide further links into the school with he aim to the children attending that school. Some may have qualifies early years teachers and be able to provide a more “education” based learning.

Some preschools are not attached to nurseries or schools, maybe ran from a village hall, and like some attached to schools offer sessions based around school terms and hours.

Childminders are able to offer this 3 year old funding and like nurseries childcare are able to be there to what suits the families and the childminder. These are home based providers, smaller ratios and many will often link with local schools for school runs etc.

However there is no great difference, as mentioned at the start each setting follow the same framework, each settling as child approached 5 all work to “school readiness” Which is referred to under the EYFS as “School readiness is vaguely described in the foundation stage as “Children reaching a good level of development in the prime areas and literacy and mathematics”.

If your child is happy and thriving within the childcare choice you have made, why change?!

Ok yes you may need to change if your current provider does not offer the funding and you wish to acces it, or you can use funded place along side your current provides ion for childcare.

Each setting has it own qualities, pros and cons. How ever ulimitly there is not great difference, it is your choice and your child’s happiness.

There is no different a in frameworks the providers works to until after the child turns 5, (end of the EYFS) then it’s your choice to join them into mainstream educational system or even private or home school your child.

Go with your gut feelings over these issues, do not just follow what other families say and do. You have to find the right fit for you child and your own situation with work etc.