<strong>Healthy Eating for Nursery Children</strong>

Laying the foundation for healthy eating habits is a gift that lasts a lifetime. As nursery caretakers and parents, we play a pivotal role in shaping the nutritional journey of our little ones. This blog delves into the importance of fostering healthy eating habits in nursery children, exploring practical tips and strategies tailored to the unique needs of our children.

The early years are a crucial period for establishing healthy eating habits. Introducing a balanced and nutritious diet during nursery years sets the stage for a lifetime of good health. It not only supports physical growth but also nurtures cognitive development and overall well-being.

Key Principles for Healthy Eating:

  1. Colourful Plates, Healthy Minds

Encourage a variety of colourful fruits and vegetables to make mealtime visually appealing. The vibrant hues of different fruits and veggies signify a range of essential nutrients, supporting the overall health and vitality of growing bodies.

  • Balanced Meals

Aim for well-balanced meals that include a mix of carbohydrates, proteins, healthy fats, and a variety of vitamins and minerals. This balance ensures that nursery children receive the necessary nutrients for optimal growth and development.

  • Hydration Matters

Keep little ones well-hydrated with water throughout the day. Water is essential for maintaining energy levels, supporting concentration, and aiding digestion. Limiting sugary drinks helps prevent unnecessary added sugars in their diet.

  • Snack Smart

Choose nutrient-dense snacks to keep hunger at bay between meals. Fresh fruit slices, yogurt, and whole-grain crackers are excellent choices that provide a mix of essential nutrients without relying on empty calories.

  • Family-Style Eating

Embrace a family-style dining approach, where children have the opportunity to serve themselves (with assistance). This not only promotes independence but also allows them to listen to their hunger and fullness cues, fostering a healthy relationship with food.

  • Positive Food Environment

Create a positive and relaxed atmosphere during mealtimes. Avoid using food as a reward or punishment and encourage positive conversations around the table. A stress-free environment promotes a healthy attitude towards eating.

Educational Initiatives:

  1. Food Exploration Activities

Incorporate fun and educational activities that involve exploring different foods. From fruit and vegetable tastings to simple cooking experiences, these activities make learning about healthy eating an enjoyable adventure.

  • Garden to Plate Learning

If possible, involve nursery children in gardening activities. Growing fruits, vegetables, or herbs can be an exciting way to connect them with the food on their plate and instill a sense of appreciation for fresh, wholesome ingredients.

At Puffins, healthy eating is more than just a routine – it’s a foundation for lifelong well-being. By prioritising balanced and nutritious meals, creating positive mealtime experiences, and incorporating educational initiatives, we equip our little ones with the tools they need for a healthy and happy future.

<strong>What support and funding is available for childcare?</strong>

Childcare funding options in England are essential considerations for parents navigating the landscape of early education costs. The UK government provides several schemes to support families in meeting childcare expenses, each with its own set of eligibility criteria and financial assistance. Here are some key aspects of childcare funding in England:

  1. 15/30 Hours Funded Entitlement:
    • 15 Hours Funded Entitlement for 3- & 4-year-olds: All three and four-year-olds in England are entitled to 15 hours of funded early education per week for 38 weeks of the year (or 11 hours per week all year round). This entitlement starts from the term following the child’s third birthday.
    • 30 Hours Funded Entitlement for 3- & 4-year-olds: Working parents of three and four-year-olds may be eligible for an additional 15 hours of funded childcare, bringing the total to 30 hours per week (or 22 hours all year round). Eligibility criteria include working a minimum number of hours and meeting income requirements.
    • 15 Hours Funded Entitlement for 2-year-olds: From April 1st, working parents of two-year-olds may be eligible for 15 hours of funded childcare per week for 38 weeks of the year (or 11 hours per week all year round). Eligibility criteria include working a minimum number of hours and meeting income requirements.
  2. Tax-Free Childcare:
    • Tax-Free Childcare is a scheme that provides eligible parents with a government contribution of 20% towards their childcare costs, up to a certain limit. For every £8 spent on childcare, the government contributes £2, up to a limit of £2,000 per child per year. It is available for children under the age of 12 (or under 17 for children with disabilities).
  3. Universal Credit:
    • Parents and guardians on Universal Credit may be eligible for childcare support. The amount provided depends on factors such as income and the number of children in the household.
  4. Childcare Vouchers:
    • Childcare Vouchers were a salary sacrifice scheme that allowed eligible parents to receive vouchers to use towards childcare costs. However, this scheme is closed to new applicants as of October 4, 2018. Existing users may continue to use the vouchers as long as their employer continues to offer them.
  5. Discretionary Support:
    • Some local authorities may offer discretionary support or grants to families facing financial challenges with childcare costs. This can vary across different regions.
  6. Early Years Pupil Premium:
    • Early Years Pupil Premium is additional funding for early years providers to enhance the quality of education for three and four-year-olds from disadvantaged backgrounds.

Important Considerations:

  • Eligibility criteria, application processes, and funding limits can vary between schemes.
  • Families are encouraged to check their eligibility through the government’s Childcare Choices websites and apply for the schemes that best suit their circumstances.
  • It’s essential to communicate directly with childcare providers, as they play a key role in administering these funding options.

<strong>Choosing the Right Nursery: A Guide for Parents</strong>

Sending your child to a nursery is a significant milestone in both your and your child’s life. As a parent, the decision to select the right nursery is crucial, considering it’s the first educational environment outside the home. This article aims to guide parents in the UK through the process of choosing a children’s nursery, ensuring a positive and nurturing start to your child’s educational journey.

Research and Recommendations:

  1. Start Early: Begin your search well in advance. Nurseries often have waiting lists, or limited availability on certain days, so initiating the process early allows you to explore multiple options.
  2. Word of Mouth: Seek recommendations from friends, family, or neighbours who have experience with local nurseries. Personal anecdotes can provide valuable insights into the daily operations and atmosphere of a nursery.
  3. Online Reviews: Utilise online platforms to read reviews from other parents. Websites and social media can offer a glimpse into the experiences of families who have enrolled their children in a particular nursery.

Visit the Nurseries:

  1. Schedule Visits: Arrange visits to the shortlisted nurseries. This hands-on approach allows you to observe the environment, interact with staff, and get a feel for the atmosphere.
  2. Observe Interactions: Pay attention to how staff members interact with the children. A warm and nurturing environment is crucial for a child’s emotional well-being and development.
  3. Ask Questions: Prepare a list of questions to ask during your visit. Inquire about daily routines, curriculum, staff qualifications, and safety protocols. A transparent and informative response is indicative of a well-managed nursery.

Assessing the Environment:

  1. Cleanliness and Safety: Ensure the nursery adheres to high standards of cleanliness and safety. Check for childproofing measures, secure outdoor play areas, and the general tidiness of the facility (although remember that nurseries often provide lots of messy play activities, so sometimes it can look a little chaotic!).
  2. Stimulating Resources: Assess the availability of age-appropriate learning resources. A variety of toys, books, and educational materials contribute to a stimulating and engaging learning environment.
  3. Outdoor Play: Evaluate the outdoor play areas. Adequate outdoor space with safe play equipment is essential for physical development and recreational activities.

Staff Qualifications and Ratios:

  1. Qualified Staff: Inquire about the qualifications and training of the nursery staff. Trained and experienced educators contribute to a positive learning environment.
  2. Staff-to-Child Ratio: Check the staff-to-child ratio, ensuring it aligns with regulatory standards. Lower ratios allow for more individualized attention and supervision.

Considering Practicalities:

  1. Location and Accessibility: Choose a nursery that is convenient in terms of location and accessibility. Consider the commute and whether the nursery fits into your daily schedule seamlessly.
  2. Cost and Fees: Understand the fee structure and what is included. Some nurseries may have additional costs for meals, extracurricular activities, or special events.
  3. Flexibility: Assess the nursery’s flexibility regarding attendance schedules, pickup and drop-off times, and any additional services they may offer.

Final Considerations:

  1. Trust Your Instincts: After visiting and gathering information, trust your instincts. Consider the atmosphere, staff interactions, and overall feeling you have about the nursery.
  2. Communication Channels: Evaluate the nursery’s communication channels. A transparent and open line of communication between staff and parents is vital for a collaborative educational experience.

Choosing a nursery for your child is a significant decision, and it’s essential to find a place that aligns with your values and provides a nurturing environment for your little one. By conducting thorough research, visiting potential nurseries, and considering practical aspects, you can make an informed choice that sets the foundation for your child’s positive educational journey.

Christmas Closedown/Well Wishes

As the end of the year is drawing closer, we’d like to take this opportunity to thank and celebrate our wonderful staff for everything they have done this year. We’d also like to thank all our families for their ongoing support for another year.

Some highlights for this year and memorable moments for Puffins. This year is the first year we have been a registered HAF provider. We have loved welcoming new families to the holiday club and have enjoyed many trips, these to Paignton Zoo, to Bicton park and more recently to a Christmas Pantomime! We have enjoyed fundraising and donated £1,500 to Balloons in the Summer and joining forces with the Exeter University for Children in Need! We have also said goodbye to our After School Club at Clyst St Mary Primary School after 19 wonderful years!

As a whole we are very proud to be Puffins and everything the staff and children have achieved in 2023! Here’s to many more memories in 2024.

Don’t forget, we are closing on Friday 22nd December 2023. We will then reopen all nurseries on Tuesday the 2nd of January 2024 as normal at 7.30am. We hope you all have a wonderful festive period and a Happy New Year! 

Puffins Christmas Creche

A fun filled Christmas morning at Southernhay!

The Christmas creche for 2023 was on Saturday the 9th of December. Every year we offer our Christmas creche, which is free childcare for a Saturday morning at our Southernhay setting, for all five of our nurseries. The perfect time to get some Christmas shopping done.

The morning was full of fun and festive joy! The children and staff made some beautiful Christmas cards, made puzzles and played games, and even had a visit from a snake and tortoise who joined in on the fun.

A big thank you to Kara and the team for organising this.

The Christmas Countdown is now officially on!

Puffins are 34 years-old!

Puffins began 34 years ago over a meeting at the Exeter Business Women’s Club, a comment was made that Exeter had no Early Years facilities or childcare suitable for working mothers. Maureen and Linda, the founders of Puffins, then said “well, why don’t we do something about it then!” This is when Puffins was born, not that simply as you can imagine, but it was born!

Puffins is, and has always been, a family run company and over the past 34 years have gained a wealth of experience in the sector. Puffins continues to maintain our original philosophy to give parents choice and peace of mind and to give children high quality experiences throughout their young lives.

We have worked hard throughout the years to adapt to what families want and have introduced new initiatives such as Helicopter stories and Woodland explorers.

Our in-house training from Puffins Training Ltd, is something we are very proud of. Having a team of trainers and assessors ensuring our staff really have the best training and can make a difference to the experiences our children receive.

Puffins over the years have always raised money for charity. We pick a couple of worthy charities a year and really try our best to raise some great amounts!

Our ethos is simple: we put the care and education of your child at the heart of everything we do. This has been the driving force for the years that have been and the many to come!

Our Quad Buggies!

We love to get the children out on walks and outings regularly, it is something Puffins are very passionate about. Trips provide children with the opportunity to learn in real-life settings, extending their education beyond the nursery. Whether it’s a visit to a local park, a museum, or a farm, each outing presents new sights, sounds, and experiences that engage a child’s senses and curiosity.

We have invested in Quad Buggies and by the end of the year all of our 5 nurseries will have them. The quad buggies enable us to get out and about far more easily and explore the local community; breathing in that fresh air!

Review us on Day Nurseries!

We believe in the power of feedback to enhance the quality of our service!

Your insights are invaluable in shaping the nurturing environment we provide for your little ones. We want to hear about your experience and ensure that we continue to meet and exceed your expectations!

The link below takes you to our day nurseries website for our 5 sites, where you can find our 5 nurseries, submit a review or read our other reviews. Our nurseries also have review cards if this is an easier method for you.

https://www.daynurseries.co.uk/day_nursery_search_results.cfm/searchgroup/56152015PUFA#page-top

Testimonies

We have collected some testimonies from our five settings and would like to share with you what our families think about the childcare we provide!

“If you are looking for a progressive, creative and professional nursery who genuinely care about the development and wellbeing of children then look no further!”

“They are extremely hard working and make sure the children feel valued. It’s a very friendly environment and the children spend a lot of time outside in the beautiful garden. The staff go above and beyond and we couldn’t recommend it more strongly!”

“All the staff members were absolutely brilliant. They have obviously been trained really well but the way they looked after and taught my children went beyond that. They all treated my children so well and genuinely cared.”

“They have brilliant games and activities which have helped her learn and grow into a very smart and independent 3-year-old.”

“She has really thrived at the nursery, they always have a variety of different activities inside and outdoors as well as trips out, and she especially loves the cooking activities.”

“It has a friendly, family-like atmosphere and very positive and polite early years practitioners who seem genuinely happy in their work.”

“I couldn’t be happier with Puffins. The staff are so kind and caring and put a lot of effort into ensuring that my daughter is comfortable and happy in the nursery environment.”

You can see more feedback and even leave your own thoughts at our Day Nurseries webpage Puffins of Exeter Ltd | 5 Day Nurseries | 193 Reviews

Our 5 nurseries!

We have 5 nurseries that are based in and around Exeter, our locations are Manston Terrace, Mont Le Grand, Southernhay, Sowton and Clyst Heath.

Each of our settings differ from one another in layout and rooms for different ages, however they all share the same Puffins commitment to providing a high standard of care, where we put the care and education of children at the heart of everything we do.

To keep to our commitment of provide a high standard of care, our sister company Puffins Training Ltd runs apprenticeship programmes and higher level qualifications for all our staff such as Management and Lead Practitioner qualification. We raise qualification levels above the requirements of statutory guidelines and maintain a high ratio of staff.

To book a show around at any of our sites email us on enquiries@puffinsofexeter.com or call us on 01392 496017

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