FAQs

Frequently Asked Questions

Whilst Starting Out is a fairly simple product, it is based on complex science and child development research.  We realise that you may have questions about a range of topics, so we’ve tried to summarise these below.

If you cannot find an answer to your question below, please don’t hesitate to get in touch and we’ll answer your query as soon as we can.

FAQs from parents

Early Years

Red Activity Sacks are accessed through Early Years settings.  If your child attends a nursery or pre-school, ask them about whether they take part in the Starting Out programme.
Each setting will have their own policy on borrowing Activity Sacks.  Generally, most settings choose to lend a sack for a week at a time.
The setting will have their own policy on lost items, so speak to your Early Years provider about this.
Starting Out is a programme that is designed to be free for families to access.  Your Early Years provider will most likely have paid something towards accessing the programme and training, but this shouldn’t affect families.
Although the red Activity Sacks have been designed for early years use, many families report that the whole family have enjoyed the activities.  Including older siblings in the activities can be very beneficial.
The Early Years part of the programme has been designed for children aged 2-4 years old, however the Activity Sacks are very open ended and you may find that other members of your family enjoy sharing them as a whole family activity.

Warning:  The Activity Sacks may contain small parts, don’t leave children unsupervised.

Many studies have highlighted that a good home learning environment is one of the most significant factors in early child development.  Put simply – What you do matters.  To understand more, read the various pages on the website explaining this.
Although many parents already do these activities with their children, a large part of the effectiveness of Starting Out is that this sack has come from the setting and children will enjoy sharing their experiences with their friends about using the Activity Sack.  In some cases Practitioners will have identified your child’s fascinations and linked an appropriate Activity Sack for your child to borrow.
No you don’t, you are the expert about your child.  Your child’s Early Years setting are experts in child development, therefore, if your setting is offering workshops we would encourage you to go along, as together it is a winning combination for helping your child’s development.
No, but we would encourage you to take part in Starting Out as your child will enjoy the opportunity to share what they have done at home with their friends in the setting.  All the Activity Sacks are designed for you to have fun with your child and you can spend as long as you like playing with them.
No you don’t.  It’s your choice.   Your setting will discuss with you what is best for your child.  However, each Activity Sack has a different focus so you may wish to access as many as possible.
No, you may like to share your experiences of using the Activity Sacks in the book, which could also encourage others.  There’s no pressure for you to do this.

Children's Centres

1:1 Home Visits

Home Visits are usually organised by a Family Outreach Worker through your local Children’s Centre.  Talk to your local Children’s Centre for more information.
No, your Family Outreach Worker will chat to you about the best time to meet and they will fit this in around your needs.
No, most the time the Home Visits are over a period of time, so it may be that you meet every month.  Your Family Outreach Worker will arrange your Home Visits with you to fit in with your needs.
Usually there are six Home Visits in total, but this may be over six to nine months.
The Family Outreach Worker will ask you about what you want to do.  It may be that you want to try a new activity or visit a park or library with them.  They will base the sessions on what you want to do.
These are one-to-one sessions, so it will just be your Family Outreach Worker visiting.
These sessions are designed for you and your child, along with the Family Outreach Worker.  It may be that you want your partner to be involved, but it’s important not to have lots of people in the house.
Make sure the TV is turned off and that you won’t have visitors turn up during the sessions.
No.  You will be given an Activity Sack to borrow for a short time to let you do some activities with your child.  Your Family Outreach Worker will organise collecting the Activity Sack from you.

Group Sessions

There are usually six Group Sessions over six weeks, but some Children’s Centres may offer extra sessions.
The Group Sessions have been designed to last for 1½ hours each.  Check with your Children’s Centre if this is the same for them.
Each Children’s Centre will run Group Sessions in the way they feel is best.  Generally, most Group Sessions will have a playtime and a snack time.  Staff will be available if you have any questions.
The Group Sessions are for invited families only, so your Children’s Centre should be able to tell you roughly how many people will be taking part.  Of course, this may vary from week to week.
Most people that attend Group Sessions really enjoy learning more about how their child learns and plays.
Most Group Sessions are held at Children’s Centres.
Group Sessions are aimed at 2-3 year olds, but it’s up to the Children’s Centre to decide who they invite.
You will have to check this with your Children’s Centre.
You will be given suggestions of things that you can try at home and would be provided with everything that you need if you will be doing any home activities, but the programme will be tailored to your needs.
Like most things, there are some simple forms to fill in, but staff will be available to help you.

Schools (Yr R)

Green Activity Sacks are accessed through Reception classes in school.  If your child is in Reception year, ask your school about whether they take part in the Starting Out programme.
Each school will have their own policy on borrowing Activity Sacks.  Generally, most schools choose to lend an Activity Sack for a week at a time.
The school will have their own policy on lost items, so speak to your school about this.
Starting Out is a programme that is designed to be free for families to access.  Your school will most likely have paid something towards accessing the programme and training, but this shouldn’t affect families.
Although the green Activity Sacks have been designed for Reception year, many families report that the whole family have enjoyed the Activities.  Including older siblings in the activities can be very beneficial.
This part of the programme has been designed for children aged 4-5 years old, however the Activity Sacks are very open ended and you may find that other members of your family enjoy sharing them as a whole family activity.

Warning:  The Activity Sacks may contain small parts, don’t leave children unsupervised.

Many studies have highlighted that a good home learning environment is one of the most significant factors in early child development.  Put simply – What you do matters.  To understand more, read the various pages on the website explaining this.
Although many parents already do these activities with their children, a large part of the effectiveness of Starting Out is that this sack has come from the school and children will enjoy sharing their experiences with their friends about using Activity Sacks.  In some cases Practitioners will have identified your child’s fascinations and linked an appropriate Activity Sack for your child to borrow.
No you don’t, you are the expert about your child.  Your child’s school are experts in child development, therefore, if your school is offering workshops we would encourage you to go along, as together it is a winning combination for helping your child’s development.
No, but we would encourage you to take part in Starting Out as your child will enjoy the opportunity to share what they have done at home with their friends in school.  All the Activity Sacks are designed for you to have fun with your child and you can spend as long as you like playing with them.
No you don’t.  It’s your choice.   Your school will discuss with you what is best for your child.  However, each Activity Sack has a different focus, so you may wish to access as many as possible.
No, you may like to share your experiences of using the Activity Sacks in the book, which could also encourage others.  There’s no pressure for you to do this.

FAQs from practitioners

Early Years

If you have facilitator membership on this website, login and download ‘tips for schools and settings’ for ideas on engaging parents.  Remember that each family is unique and plays a significant role in their child’s development.  Be enthusiastic about the workshops and help families to know that their attendance is hugely valued.  Try to offer flexibility in when workshops are hosted to allow for the needs of the families in your setting.
We would suggest giving parents the leaflets that accompany Starting Out.
Alternatively, try some low key one-to-one information sharing with parents when they are dropping off or collecting their child.  Parent evenings are another opportunity to share some of the essential child development information with families.  Remember, you don’t have to be an expert on brain development, just use the information available in the Practitioner’s Manual.
Ideally you’ll be loaning them out so storage won’t be an issue.  We suggest having the Activity Sacks in a corridor or area of high visibility.  Hanging them on hooks is ideal for signing them in and out.
If you’re enthusiastic, that enthusiasm can be contagious.  Getting children interested in the Activity Sacks also plays a significant part in getting families onboard.  If you have Facilitator membership on this website, login and download ‘tips for schools and settings’ for more ideas.
It is up to your setting to decide its own policy.  Some settings replace items and accept that it is inevitable that some items may get lost or broken.  If it is a specialist item, you can get in touch with us for a quote on replacing the item.  Other places opt for an amnesty box, whilst others adopt a policy whereby they won’t let people have a new Activity Sack until they have returned the last one back complete and intact.  It is good to make your policy clear to all staff and families.  Generally most parents value borrowing the Activity Sacks and don’t lose the contents, but accidents will always happen.
In principle yes, but each activity is carefully thought out and linked to a brain development principle and a specific part of the EYFS.  There may be occasions where you want to add an additional item or replace a lost item. Remember, the core principle of low cost/no cost items that encourage play.
Although these may look like simple products, they have been carefully thought out.  Extension ideas are great but Starting Out is copyright protected so don’t make your own Activity Sacks and call them Starting Out.   Feel free to discuss any ideas with us.
You can refer to the ‘Practitioner’s Manual for Early Years providers’ for workshop suggestions.  Alternatively, if you have Facilitator membership on the website, login and download the ‘tips for schools and settings’ document for further suggestions.
You’re not expected to be an expert in everything.  Be open and honest.  Don’t be afraid to say you don’t have all the answers, parents know their child best, so work together.
It’s up to you to decide what works best in your setting.  Generally, most settings will choose to lend Activity Sacks for one week at a time.
There is a simple sign in/out form in the Practitioner’s Manual for Early Years providers, called the ‘Activity Sack Tracker’.  Additionally, for those Practitioners that have Facilitator membership on this website, you can login and download sticker charts to show which Activity Sack each child has borrowed.  Also in the Membership area are reward certificates to give children once they have borrowed 5, 10 or 15 Activity Sacks.
Termly workshops will help to keep momentum, but your passion and enthusiasm will be the most significant influence.  Try to be flexible and responsive to each family’s needs and children’s fascinations, asking parents for feedback.  Keep Starting Out high profile by making it visible and encouraging circle time sharing of which Activity Sacks children have borrowed.
Treat each child uniquely, following their fascinations.  For some children there may be a particular area of need that you identify.  In this scenario, you may wish to take a more targeted approach and link the Activity Sacks to what you are doing with that child in your setting.
Evaluation tools are in the Practitioner’s Manual for Early Years providers for collecting data.  Monitoring the qualitative notes in the books and listening to informal comments from parents and children will also help capture these measures.

Children's Centres

The Practitioner’s Manual for Children’s Centres has clear instructions to help you prepare and carry out Home Visits.
The Practitioner’s Manual for Children’s Centres has clear instructions to help you prepare.
Mainly this is down to your professional judgement.  Consider whether this family will benefit more from being in an environment with other families or whether they would benefit from one-to-one support initially.  Demographics, transport, personality, language barriers, etc. may all influence your decision.
There are tools in the Practitioner’s Manual for Children’s Centres to support you gathering data regarding impact.  Additionally, you may want to buy a ‘Tracking booklet’ and an ‘All About Me’ book for each child through this website.
Ideally you need a reasonable size group room and an outdoor space is always going to be beneficial, although not essential.
As a minimum, one member of staff and a volunteer, but consider your ratios, policies, etc.
It’s down to your judgement.  However, we recommend Practitioners have a strong understanding of child development and that they attend our training programme, available through this website.

Schools (Yr R)

If you have Facilitator membership on this website, login and download ‘tips for schools and settings’ for ideas on engaging parents.  Remember that each family is unique and plays a significant role in their child’s development.  Be enthusiastic about the workshops and help families to know that their attendance is hugely valued.  Try to offer flexibility in when workshops are hosted to allow for the needs of the families in your setting.
We would suggest giving parents the leaflets that accompany Starting Out.
Alternatively, try some low key one-to-one information sharing with parents when they are dropping off or collecting their child.  Parent evenings are another opportunity to share some of the essential child development information with families.  Remember, you don’t have to be an expert on brain development, just use the information available in the Practitioner’s Manual.
Ideally you’ll be loaning them out so storage won’t be an issue.  We suggest having the Activity Sacks in a corridor or area of high visibility.  Hanging them on hooks is ideal for signing them in and out.
If you’re enthusiastic, that enthusiasm can be contagious.  Getting children interested in the Activity Sacks also plays a significant part in getting families onboard.  If you have Facilitator membership on this website, login and download ‘tips for schools and settings’ for more ideas.
It is up to your school to decide its own policy.  Some schools replace items and accept that it is inevitable that some items may get lost or broken.  If it is a specialist item, you can get in touch with us for a quote on replacing the item.  Other places opt for an amnesty box, whilst others adopt a policy whereby they won’t let people have a new Activity Sack until they have returned the last one back complete and intact.  It is good to make your policy clear to all staff and families.  Generally most parents value borrowing the Activity Sacks and don’t lose the contents, but accidents will always happen.
In principle yes, but each activity is carefully thought out and linked to a brain development principle and a specific part of the EYFS.  There may be occasions where you want to add an additional item or replace a lost item. Remember, the core principle of low cost/no cost items that encourage play.
Although these may look like simple products, they have been carefully thought out.  Extension ideas are great but Starting Out is copyright protected so don’t make your own Activity Sacks and call them Starting Out.   Feel free to discuss any ideas with us.
You can refer to the Practitioner’s Manual for Schools (Reception) for workshop suggestions.  Alternatively, if you have Facilitator membership on the website, login and download the ‘tips for schools and settings’ document for further suggestions.
You’re not expected to be an expert in everything.  Be open and honest.  Don’t be afraid to say you don’t have all the answers, parents know their child best, so work together.
It’s up to you to decide what works best in your School.  Generally, most Schools will choose to lend Activity Sacks for one week at a time.
There is a simple sign in/out form in the Practitioner’s Manual for Schools (Reception), called the ‘Activity Sack Tracker’.  Additionally, for those Practitioners that have Facilitator membership on this website, you can login and download sticker charts to show which Activity Sack each child has borrowed.  Also in the Membership area are reward certificates to give children once they have borrowed 5, 10 or 15 Activity Sacks.
Termly workshops will help to keep momentum, but your passion and enthusiasm will be the most significant influence.  Try to be flexible and responsive to each family’s needs and children’s fascinations, asking parents for feedback.  Keep Starting Out high profile by making it visible and encouraging circle time sharing of which Activity Sacks children have borrowed.
Treat each child uniquely, following their fascinations.  For some children there may be a particular area of need that you identify.  In this scenario, you may wish to take a more targeted approach and link the Activity Sacks to what you are doing with that child in your class.
Evaluation tools are in the Practitioner’s Manual for Schools (Reception) for collecting data.  Monitoring the qualitative notes in the books and listening to informal comments from parents and children will also help capture these measures.