TUCKED away in a park in south London a group of three children hunt for frogs, seek out bugs and enjoy the great outdoors.
They are being looked after by a childminder specifically trained in helping to raise mini adventurers.
Home Nursery – an offshoot of the Koru Kids childminding agency – has been launched to address the growing number of parents wanting their city-dwelling kids to learn while surrounded by Mother Nature.
For Koru Kids founder Rachel Carrell, branching out into this field was a no-brainer – and there are already thousands of children on their waiting lists.
She said: “Our new Home Nursery is forest education, nursery and childminding rolled into one.
“During the Covid pandemic, people realised the importance of enjoying the outdoors wherever possible and now they want to incorporate that into their lives as much as they can.
“For children, outdoor play is so important in growing up to become curious, creative and brave adults.”
At home nurseries scattered across London, children are based in the houses of the qualified early educators who look after them but spend their days out and about in the local area – come rain or shine.
They only stay indoors if it’s dangerous to go outside, for example during high winds, so waterproofs and wellies are essential.
Rachel said: “Research suggests that children who explore the outdoors on a regular and sustained basis benefit from better physical health, improved sleep, supercharged learning and improved emotional wellbeing.
“Parents like it because no two days are the same. Each home nursery has around 20 learning spaces they regularly take children to. One day they could be in the woods building dens, the next on a Thames beach.”
The nurseries, which are Ofsted registered, are aimed at children aged six months to four years.
The ‘mini Bear Grylls’ enjoy a curriculum where instead of learning numbers and letters in a classroom they count sticks, stones and leaves, and chalk letters onto paving or stones.
When it comes to exploring, children are guided to safely climb tree stumps rather than avoiding them.
Rachel added: “Being outside presents vital learning opportunities for children. We think it’s by exposing children to new experiences that they become more resilient, and that sets them up well for school and in later life.”
After mornings spent exploring, children head back for a well-earned nap and a home-cooked meal.
Home Nurseries are run by fully trained and vetted childminders who open up their homes to carry out the rewarding job, which can also come with huge financial benefits.
Rachel said: “Our Home Nursery early educators have the potential to earn up to £70,000 a year, which demonstrates how in-demand this service is.
“We only allow three children per Early Educator so their individual needs can be fully met.”
Koru Kids is one of the UK’s top childcare service providers and specialises in recruiting, training and matching nannies – and now childminders – to families.
It was launched in 2016 by New Zealand-born Ms Carrell, who was working as the CEO of online doctor service DrThom when she welcomed her firstborn child and discovered the difficulties of arranging childcare while she was at work.
This year it has embarked on a mission to recruit 30,000 nannies across the UK to meet soaring demand from under-pressure parents.
It already has more than 11,000 certified nannies on its database and is expanding its service from being predominantly London-based to include more UK cities including Manchester, Birmingham, Bristol and Brighton.