Learn and Have Fun
According to the Department of Education, in 2017, 79% of families in England with children had used some form of childcare during their most recent term-time week. This equated to 4.4 million families or 6.3 million children.
The provision that children receive before they start school is a vital and impactful phase of education, influencing children’s later educational outcomes and social-behavioural development. The Government states that it is committed to providing high quality early years education and childcare for children, while helping parents with childcare costs so that they can work.
Playgroups are usually run by trained Early Years Professional, with parents often closely involved. They offer short daily sessions of care and learning through play for children aged two to four years old and so can be a great starting point for children.
Wheathampstead has its very own Playgroup which was started in 1980 by a group of local mums who were looking for childcare in a social environment. The Wheathampstead Playgroup went from strength to strength, growing in popularity over the years. Now, having spent some years in the United Reformed Church Hall in Wheathampstead, the playgroup is now situated next to Beech Hyde School in Nurseries Road.
Wheathampstead Playgroup is run as a charity, which essentially means that it receives no funding at all from government, having to rely on session fees as well as generating revenue from its various fund raising activities to cover its costs. This charity is overseen by a group of Trustees who offer their skills on a voluntary basis to help with governance and overall policy setting.
Parents are encouraged to get involved if they want to and, in any event, it’s a great place to meet other local mums and dads. There are around 11 staff members - some of whom have been working with Wheathamspetad Playgroup for more than 20 years. (Some of the current staff members started out as parents wanting to become involved with the playgroup)
There’s a wealth of fundraising activities throughout the year including a Ladies Pamper evening, a Christmas market, a trikathon for the kids plus lots more. (Keep an eye on the What’s On pages of this magazine for details)
The playgroup follows the Early Years Foundation Stage ( EYFS) which sets the standard for learning and development for children from birth to 5. Their aim is for children to learn through play, to be happy and confident and learn to socialise and play with others – it’s structured, not regimented. There ‘s singing and music everyday as well as group stories and a myriad of choices for children to get involved with, from books and games through to which snacks to eat and which crockery to use.
Areas of learning
Children are mostly taught through games and play.
The areas of learning are:
communication and language
personal, social and emotional development
understanding the world
expressive arts and design
Flexibility is the real benefit on offer at Wheathamspetad Playgroup as parents can choose morning sessions which start at 8:40 through to 11:40 or afternoons which start just after 12 finishing at 3:10. Children can come along for every session, everyday or one session per week depending on the parents needs. There’s even a new breakfast club starting this month which welcomes 2- 4 years from 8am offering a light breakfast which can be ideal for parents with an early start to work. Alishah, the Playgroup Manager said, ‘It’s a great place to work and really rewarding to see the children develop, becoming confident and independent as they try new things.’
The government does help with funding in some age groups; for information on this please visit their web site https://www.gov.uk/help-with-childcare-costs
It’s worth noting too that Ofsted, the Office for Standards in Education, rated the Wheathampstead Playgroup as Outstanding, so whatever your childcare needs, it’s worth contacting the friendly team at this local playgroup to find out what they can offer.