Free childcare for toddlers paying off

editorial image

Scottish Borders Council is urging parents who haven’t already done so to make the most of the 600 free hours of early learning and childcare available to eligible two-year-olds.

The offer applies to children with parents or carers who receive certain state benefits or tax credits.

Edenside Primary School in Kelso, pictured, opened their new Early Years and Childcare Provision for two-year-olds in April this year. The purpose built nursery setting makes use of vacant accommodation in the school and provides a bright and very suitable learning area for up to 10 children.

Staffed by two experienced nursery nurses, Kim Thumwood and Yvonne Foster, there are currently six children enrolled who meet the eligibility criteria.

Yvonne Foster said: “The children have all settled in well and are enjoying the new space, getting to know each other and the two of us. Like other nursery settings across the Borders, there is so much for them to learn through the play and activities we offer. As well as socialising with the others in the group, they are given opportunities to develop their language and motor skills.”

Laura Barnes’ daughter has been attending the Edenside facility since it opened. She said: “We bring Tamara five afternoons a week and are really pleased with how well she is adapting to her new routine, seeing a big improvement in her independence over these past few months. She hadn’t been to any groups before this one but it seemed an ideal opportunity to help her learn to mix with other children and adults. It’s good to see her enjoying some time away from her older brother and baby sister where the attention is focussed just on her. It’s also a chance for me to spend some time with the baby, as my son is at his nursery at the same time, so there are benefits for the whole family.”

Councillor Sandy Aitchison, SBC’s executive member for education said: “The excellent facilities provided at Edenside are just one example of the range of high quality early learning and childcare provision that is available at similar settings across the Borders. Not only are children given the opportunity to learn and play, thereby enhancing their social development, language and learning skills, but parents and carers have some vital time to themselves.

“Whether this is used for work, training or some other purpose, this is time that is available to them and I would encourage anyone who thinks they might be eligible to contact the Early Years Team to find out more. They will be able answer any questions you have about the scheme and what is available in your local area.”