HERE WE HOPE TO provide answers to the most COMMON QUESTIONS......
What will you do when it rains? Or if the weather is really foul?
Carry on playing! Provided the children have the right clothes on they will be happy to be outside - but keeping warm & dry are crucial which is why we will give you a recommended kit list. It's often more sheltered in the woods so the children will probably just carry on playing without really noticing the weather....but we will always put up large tarpaulins between trees, and tents to keep us dry. If on the rare occasions the weather is so bad that it just wouldn't be safe to be in the woods (e.g. if there was a storm or high winds forecast) or if it is very cold we are fortunate to have the Sports Club nearby and we will be able to use some indoor space. We can use the Sports Hall to play games or hire a room for quieter craft activities. Over the summer of 2019 we will be getting an outdoor shelter for the field however, which will give us a lovely, warm and cosy place to shelter in if we need to.
How do children use the toilet in the woods?
We have special pop up tents and camping toilets in the woods for the children to use and a hand-washing station with warm water and soap. For children still in nappies we also have a small pop up tent for nappy changing.
What age do you take children from?
We take children from the age of 2.5 years until the age of 6. If you are intending to delay the start of school for your child, or are home schooling/flexi schooling please do get in touch.
What are your opening hours?
We are open Monday - Thursday from 8.30 am until 3.30 pm, 46 weeks of the year and, if eligible you can use Government funded hours (15 or 30 hours). We run a holiday club alongside our Kindergarten during the Easter, May & most of the Summer holidays.
Can we come and visit?
Yes please get in touch with us to arrange a mid week visit. Our preferred day is a Wednesday morning as this is when our ‘Tiny Treehoppers’ Parent & Toddler group runs. But if you can’t make this day we will do our best to arrange another time. We also arrange termly ‘Family Days’ at the weekend.
If my child needs to sleep how will they do that?
We will have hammocks between trees in warmer months and a tent which will go up each morning with roll mats, cosy sleeping bags and throws for any child who may need a sleep in the day.
What happens with food in the forest?
Children will need to bring a packed lunch with them and some fruit to share in the morning. Whenever we can we will involve the children in the preparation of snacks and also cook extras like 'wild toast', damper bread, baked fruit and popcorn. Eating together is a great social activity and all that fresh air builds up appetites! We have recently been inspected by Mid Sussex District Council and have been awarded a 5 star hygiene rating.
How do we stop dog walkers/members of the public coming on site?
We rarely see visitors in the woods during the day as we are quite tucked away but we put signs out around our base camp so that people know we are there. Each morning our boundaries are marked out using rope & brightly coloured cones. Most of the site we use is edged by natural barriers of brambles so the markers are more of a visual reminder for the children, but where there are gaps we reinforce them with 'dead hedging'. We also have large banners that effectively act as barriers on the paths going into the woodland and onto the field.
Our numbers are small with a maximum of 16 children and very high adult to child ratios - so we will always be able to keep children within sight. We ask that children come to Treehoppers in a bright yellow or orange raincoat please and can recommend some good suppliers, many of whom have offered us discount codes to use. We also provide a yellow branded long sleeved t-shirt & sweatshirt as we would like to ensure that the children are dressed in brightly coloured clothes and waterproofs that as well as being good quality are easy to spot in the woods! If you aren’t able to buy a yellow jacket then we may be able to lend you one for a term and also our own branded hi-vis jackets for the children to wear.
How many sessions does my child need to do? Can they ‘mix and match’ with another provider?
While we do accept children for just one day a week, we recommend that they come for a minimum of 2 days if possible. This helps them to settle in to Kindergarten easier, make friends and really benefit from the Forest School approach. For young children particularly a week is a very long time! When children first join Treehoppers we are happy for them to come for half day sessions in the first term (there is also the option to begin with shorter 2 hour sessions), but we recommend that they build up to full days when they turn 3. Currently most children attend for our core session hours of 9.30am -2.30pm but this will change from September 2019, when our core times will be 9-3 with the option to do morning & afternoon sessions too.
When we are full and operate a waiting list, we will give priority to those children attending 2 days or more.
You can definitely send them to Treehoppers as well as another pre-school, nursery or childminder and if you are claiming funded hours we can help you with any paperwork. We will work together with the other setting to ensure we provide the best care for your child.
What are the fees and can I use my 15 or 30 hours government funding?
****Our fees and funding structure has recently been reviewed.******
We charge an enrollment deposit of £30. If you take up the place this will be used to supply you with a t-shirt, sweatshirt and named bag tag.
You will be able to use your funded hours with us if your child is eligible but there are some restrictions. Parents are entitled to 15 hours (or 30 depending upon household income/circumstances) for 38 weeks of the year so the funding will be ‘stretched’ over the 46 weeks we are open.
If you are unsure about whether you are entitled to funded hours these websites are very useful. The Family Information Service at West Sussex County Council can also help guide you through the process:
Please contact us for more information on our fee structure for children using the funded hours.
You may also be able to get some help via the Governments Tax free childcare scheme (and this can be used at the same time as the funded 15/30 hours). You may be entitled to up to £500 every 3 months (£2,000 a year) for each of your children to help with the costs of childcare and the Govenment will pay £2 for every £8 you pay any approved childcare provider