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Prince George's Third Birthday and Free Preschool Education fit for a Future King

22/07/2016 09:19 | Updated 22 July 2016

Happy third birthday to Prince George!

I wonder what celebrations the future king has planned. Perhaps his parents are inviting some of his friends from Westacre Montessori Nursery in Norfolk over for a party.

Across the country, parents of children the same age will be breathing a sigh of financial relief. From the term following their third birthday, all children in England are given 15 hours' free early years education per week in term time.

This entitlement is universal, so it is available to everyone - including future kings. Some children take five mornings per week, with three hours per session and others prefer to attend for two whole days.

Many working parents will already be sending their child for at least 15 hours, in which case the free entitlement will substantially reduce the cost burden to them.

But these 15 hours are to make sure every boy and girl in the UK has the best start in life.

Research shows that high-quality early education each week is the best way to reduce any inequalities between peers and get children to a good stage of development, ready to start learning when they go to school.

We also know that boys are much more likely to fall behind in their learning, particularly numeracy and literacy, than girls. This is why NDNA runs its highly-popular Brave Boys courses to help nurseries understand boys' learning styles and to tailor their nursery day accordingly.

All children are different - high-quality nurseries don't generalise - but for a boy or girl who has boundless energy and loves adventure and the outdoors, being expected to sit at a table to learn could really quell their enthusiasm.

Early years professionals understand this and know how to help children to learn on the move, using their whole bodies.

During his free 15 hours, Prince George may enjoy learning about superheroes or astronauts. So many children loved keeping up with Tim Peake's exciting voyage.

He might be starting to count how many rockets are lined up on a table or putting on a superhero cape and drawing huge letters on the ground with a stick.

Prince George might want to climb trees and look at how the buds form in the springtime. Or build the tallest tower he can with wooden blocks - then knock it down again.

He could try some weighing and measuring or moving water from one large container to another. How much water does it take to make sand wet enough to build a castle?

With his friends, George might be learning how to build a den to shelter from the rain. Or looking at some pictures of favourite sports stars in books - maybe trying out some Olympic-inspired sports such as throwing, running and jumping.

These activities are the sorts of things that children explore naturally but did you know that through this early discovery, children are learning vital skills and knowledge to equip them for the future? And more importantly, growing a love of learning that will stay with them for life?

In summary, Prince George will be one of many thousands of children in nurseries up and down the country, enjoying the fun and play of learning - a magical time and an amazing process.

This time next year, three-year-olds of working parents in England will be gearing up for 30 free hours' childcare and early education, double the current provision that Prince George is about to start.

This is great news for families - but high-quality places can't be delivered cheaply. NDNA is now campaigning for the right funding to make this a success. Go to www.ndna.org.uk/childcarechallenge to see more on this.

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