'Cream o' Galloway', an organic ice cream centre that has an adventure playground as part of its attractions. The number one thing to do, other than eat the delicious ice cream, was to ‘Go Boing’. These were a cluster of connected trampoline nets suspended amongst the trees which the grandchildren loved and my 60 year old legs didn't!
And my youngest daughter eldest child was given a bike by a neighbour last week, which was stabiliser free. He isn't quite there yet with his balance, but he’s learning and having fun at the same time. Many studies have shown that the most formative years are those between birth and the age of 8. About 90% of a child’s brain develops by the age of 5, and 85% of a child’s intellect, personality and social skills are developed by that age. Whilst supporting, stimulating and encouraging a child during their early years is a parent’s responsibility, increasingly others, like grandparents are involved in the child's early life care. There can be many reasons for this, but most often it is economic concerns that top the list with many families caught in a net of both parents having to work and in order to do so, source and pay for early year’s childcare.
The '4-2-1' problem has given rise to a situation where the only child potentially becoming responsible for their 2 parents and 4 grandparents. If pensions and savings fail to provide adequate cover in later life, responsibility for the care of the older person might be beyond the only child's resources and increasingly care become the responsibility of the State. So it was good to see last week councils, employers and childcare providers in the England being asked to come forward with innovative and flexible ideas of how to deliver 30 hours of free child care every week from September 2016.
The UK Government already spends £5Bn a year supporting childcare provision, helping parents to return to work and when working, keeping more of their income to spend on things other than childcare. More than 80% of all parents surveyed in a national survey undertaken by the Department of Education said they would take up the offer of free child care if it was available now. Sadly, even within the existing provision, 50% of families (some 113,000 children) from the most disadvantaged groups in society are not using their free places, particularly those families with 2 year olds.