This post is sponsored by Pacey, the Professional Association for Childcare and Early Years.
Single mum, Christina Upjohn, lives in Lambeth and has four children aged between three and 22. The 2-year-old funding helped her work as an early years practitioner and helped support the development of her youngest daughter who has Special Educational Needs (SEN).
Hi my name is Christina Upjohn, I live in Lambeth and I have four kids aged between three and 22. I first heard about the funding when I was working at my son’s nursery as an early years practitioner. I did take up the funding and would take it up again in the future. My youngest two are about to start in their new childcare settings. They will have a part-time place at a nursery in a children’s centre with the 15-hour funding. I will top that up with five hours each.
They love to play outside and they love small world activities such as farm animals and dinosaurs. My 4- 4 year-old loves books and has started to recognise familiar words and print, enabling her to read earlier than expected. She started doing this at 3 and a half. Also, they love messy play such as painting, slime and flour. It’s great they experience this outside of home as no parent enjoys cleaning paint off the wall or picking trodden-in play dough out of a carpet!
The benefits for the children are that they have access to resources and activities that I simply cannot provide them with at home. In addition to this, they experience social interactions with other children and learn to trust and form relationships with other adults/educators.
My youngest daughter has SEN (global developmental delay being one of her diagnoses), so for her, access to the funded hours is important. Her development is closely monitored by staff and shared with multi-agency professionals. This information sharing enables the people in her care to share strategies to aid her development and ensure she meets her full potential.
While my children were at childcare, last year, I spent the time attending a voluntary work placement in a reception class. This year, I will use the time to work on a community project and have a rest after years of studying alongside having babies. Having four children, especially two little ones 10 months apart in age is exhausting!
I think the 2-year-old funding is more important for the children than for the families. The purpose of the Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS) curriculum is to promote school readiness. Children need to develop good personal, social and emotional skills before starting school. Also, it is beneficial for children to become familiar with daily structure and routine similar to school, which a nursery setting can provide.
One way the 2-year-old funding has enriched us all as a lone parent family is that it has connected us with a network of other families. I have formed relationships with other parents whose children are at the same setting. We meet up for play dates and trips and I no longer feel so isolated.
It has helped my children become confident and happy learners. It has also provided time and space for my own personal development so that when my daughters reach school age, I will be ready to return to work with new qualifications.
If you are thinking of checking to see if you are eligible for the funding or you are thinking of applying for it, I’d say: Make the enquiry! Those few hours a week can make a massive difference to you and your child. You will be able to make some time for yourself. Meanwhile, your children will be in a safe, nurturing, educational environment that will enhance their development and skills and gradually prepare them for their future learning environment.
This post is part of our ‘Together For Twos’ Day, a whole day dedicated to the 2-year-old funding. For more info on the funding go to https://www.pacey.org.uk/working-in-childcare/spotlight-on/2-year-olds/
And if you want to find out more about finding childcare, PACEY has lots of information on their website to help you choose childcare for your child.
Also, check out Carly’s Story. She is a single mum of three children and she is determined to get off benefits. The funding for 2 year olds is helping her think about how she can best do that for her family.