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Have you been outside lately?

What’s the plan?

With a new year kicking off for us in the Hangout and Day Care and the exciting launch of Varsity it brings us a shimmering light of thought provoking concepts.
Every September we gather the Kids Committee in order to prepare for the New Year. We get a great mix of interests brought to the table but also a lot of concerning ones revolving around screen time.
Now don’t get us wrong we love our movies but when gamers and bloggers and bring our own mobiles come into the equation we ask ourselves

”What happened to play?”

Same applies to what they will plan to do when they get home – rarely we will hear a reply that doesn’t include a screen or a jammed packed schedule of extra curricular activities; but, we do worry that ‘Free play’ is slowly being pushed out of children’s daily activities.
One of our Standards for Inspection is regarding outdoor facilities. Being an urban setting this can present some challenges but we are lucky to have a variety of spaces as well as those in and outside the Omagh area that we avail of daily. We still aim to continue to build more areas in order to provide kids with what we had when we were younger – the old school ways of play and boost their aspirations to create play.
My point is; if our steady focus is emphasising the consideration and awareness of emotional, physical or mental health to help generate the imagination flow, then why has technology become a dependency rather than the aid it was supposed to be?
I’m sure you would agree when you watch this amazing video created by Nature Valley. This is their take on Richard Louv’s research who coined the phrase: ”nature-deficit disorder” in identifying the major decline on children being outdoors and losing their affinity with nature.
*”What’s happening to children about losing their connection is real and we have some very real reasons to be afraid of the consequences.”

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Varsity Playbook: How does this work?

It’s simple really..

Varsity is designed to ensure a consistent flow with no interruptions or transitions unless arranged by the children attending that is. (They have Venture Time scheduled everyday so this takes up our buses).

Why did we do this?

We needed to ensure:

  • Full staff focus and attention is solely dedicated to the attending children
  • Shifts remaining the same and key workers have consistent time with their key children
  • Pick up and drop off stresses and anxieties are reduced for staff and children
  • Activities, events and trips have longer running times
  • The Team get longer team planning and reflection daily for the next day
  • Continue to build stronger relationships with families.

What are the benefits for Children:

  • They are fully aware of their schedules
  • They create healthier habits: attention, focus, life styles
  • They are actively involved with planning their day instead of ‘the have to do’s’
  • It expands bonding time
  • Reduces anxieties, upsets, tantrums
  • Their abilities to plan and problem solve increases
  • The attention to detail in development and interests are not over looked
  • They will feel valued
  • They will develop self praise and confidence about who they are and what they expect of themselves.

Benefits to families:

  • Better home routine
  • Reduced mixing up of communication between different settings
  • Reduced costs – we can send this if you need to compare
  • Increased 1-1 meetings and designated times with the Varsity Team
  • Knowing that your child will be able to express themselves, confidently and with a greater understanding of what they are expressing develops a stronger bond.
  • Parents, children and the Team will learn and grow together.

Like all Curriculums it is imperative to attend regularly – (Yes even if you have enrolled your child in a non compulsory Preschool place you need to attend everyday or it will be taken from you) so we made it a little easier on the childcare purse strings.

Everything with our sessions is included: pull ups, meals, trips, events – the lot and we don’t charge for closures!   

The following sessions available for Juniors Varsity are:
8am – 2pm = £22.00 per day (for 5 sessions) (Parent’s pick up time is between 2pm – 2:30pm – this is free too)
8am – 6:30pm = £35.00 per day (for 5 sessions)

You can choose between full days and the Varsity sessions within the week – but to be in Varsity as we said to have full benefit of the Programme attendance is important.

Your child does not need to be potty trained to enrol- we will work with you.

If you feel your child still needs a comforter – we will work with you.

If your child has particular areas that require additional support – we will work with you.  

Are you in?

Let’s Change the Future..

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Presenting Private Day Care of the Year 2018!

Not 1… not 2… but 3 awards for Juniors at the Families First Ni Awards!

What a night! we were totally blown away by receiving such recognition about what we do here at Juniors.

In light of us launching Juniors Varsity and all we do to support children’s ‘Health and Wellbeing’ reaffirmed how highly people value what we are doing, this was outstanding thank you so much!

As for ‘Nursery Personality of the Year’ we knew that one member of our team shone through when being asked to nominate someone: Alana Jack. Alana is a Key Person in Jill’s absence who for the past 9 years truly reflects Juniors’ ethos and strives to ensure standards are maintained daily which made her a clear winner, Congratulations Alana!

Continuing on a high from these two outstanding awards we scored a hat trick and received ‘Private Day Care Overall Winner’ Award of 2018!

Child care and Learning is an inspiring vocation and even though it has it’s challenges; we won’t stop, we will continue to rise and strive to meet the wondrous outcomes of supporting children to become the fabulous individuals they want to be.

We adore our role in children’s lives and discovering we are valued by others through recognition and appreciation makes all of our efforts worthwhile.


Thank you to everyone who voted, we cannot express enough how much this means to us. x



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Juniors Varsity: What’s the problem?

It’s not, and we know a lot of people will agree. However…

some do think if mental or emotional health isn’t a problem (on the surface) in their home then it doesn’t apply to them to be concerned. ‘Don’t meet trouble half way’, and all that.

The reality is that mental health is as important as physical health- to everyone. Any implications to either will have a telling effect on your day to day.

This isn’t something that has just appeared – it has always been a concern, only now the global population has become more aware and are applying a vast amount of services to help people. These services are incredible as the workload involved in order to re route a default mode of emotional responses and coping strategies as you get older can be a profoundly long road. We know, we see it a lot.  Consider this…

Wouldn’t it be better if in the early years we equipped children with the tools enabling them to identify issues?


*The statistics about the increasing need to address children and young people’s mental health speak for themselves:
• Approximately 850,000 children and young people have a clinically significant mental health problem
• 1 in 10 children 5-16 years, or 3 in every classroom have a diagnosable mental health problem. This doubled between the 1980s and mid 2000s
• The Government’s measure of children’s wellbeing found that almost 1 in 4 showed some evidence of mental ill health (including anxiety and depression).
• 1 in 3 diagnosed mental health conditions in adulthood relate directly to adverse childhood experiences that have subsequently impacted on their psychological development and wellbeing.
• It is estimated that half of all mental health problems manifest before the age of 14 years, with 25% enduring mental health conditions being present by the age of 24 years. Yet less than half receive treatment at the time.
• There has been an average increase in referrals of 25% to targeted Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS), with the range being between 20-70%.
• CAMHS are, on average, turning away nearly 25% of children referred to them for treatment .

• GPs are having to act outside of their knowledge and competence to support children’s mental health which is worrying as antidepressant use amongst children in UK is rising and recently it has been suggested that children have a doubled risk of aggression and suicide when taking one of the five most commonly prescribed antidepressants.

It’s scary isn’t it?

You see these teenagers were once little kids. These adults were once children too. Where were the methods to develop life long coping skills? Why is there a consistent emphasis in getting children up and out, speeding up school enrolments, pushed through a system, instead of focusing self discovery and emotional skills sets?

We have always focused on enabling children’s development of self regulation skills when it comes to emotional and mental health. We know there will always be trying times ahead for anyone: ‘feeling they are not good enough, peer/sibling comparison, homework, school work, exams, rewards, praise, getting a job, keeping a job, dealing with stress’ etc.

And we do our best to support them through this. This is why we designed Juniors Varsity. To emphasise the importance of children having a chance to build solid foundations in being able to identify solutions and overcome such challenges.

So we will ask again…why are academics considered more important than mental health?

Let’s Change the Future

*Statistics: young minds annual report 2016

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