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What do you do when it rains?

Play!! (See Weather Therapy in Play for Wales.) Remaining warm and dry is the most important element to create happiness and creative play in all weathers. Whilst the woods themselves afford shelter (and our practitioners know where to go to obtain maximum shelter from the prevailing wind), we also have large, lightweight tarps that we rig up to provide extra protection. We are fortunate to have a yurt with a wood-burning stove that is really toasty in even the coldest conditions.


What about toileting?

We have a specified area at each play camp where we erect a tarp to offer shelter and privacy for toileting. We compost our faeces waste – offering the children the opportunity to witness the transformational process of poo into roses! Children not used to toileting outside quickly adapt; staff are on hand to assist as needed.
Our toileting policy.


How will you support my child in toilet training?

Playing out in the woods all day in our spacious environment is certainly more challenging for the child when it comes to toilet training. They may be up a tree when the urge for toileting comes so the effort to get to the appropriate location simply doesn’t work. In our experience your child may need to remain in nappies/pull-ups when they are already fully proficient at toileting at home. This does not appear to confuse or set back the success at home. We welcome any child aged 3+ to the Secret Garden regardless of toileting success but would ask for your full co-operation if we request that your child remain in nappies/pull-ups.


How will you assist my child in settling in at the Secret Garden?

We appreciate what a huge step it is for both the child and parents/carers to step into preschool education and acknowledge that fears may be manifested by both the child and adult. Our aim is to support your child as best we can as they enter this new world.
After your initial visit to meet staff, ask questions and explore a bit of the woods with your child we then invite you back a week prior to your child’s first day. This visit will be on the day of your child’s attendance in order for them to meet the adults that will be caring for them, socialise with the children they will play with and witness the lunch time routine.
On your child’s first day please bring them to the park with time to play and socialise before walking up the hill. If your child is anxious we ask that the drop off be as swift as possible. This may intuitively sound counterproductive but in our experience the swifter the separation the speedier the child settles down. If on your departure your child is crying be assured that they will be cared for in an exemplary way. We find that compassionate, empathetic listening helps the child to connect with and release the feelings of sadness or fear allowing him/her to step into play quite quickly. We will contact you via a call or text to keep you informed of how your child is coping.


My child comes home expressing frustration that he can’t climb the trees, could you help him please?

We have a policy of not physically assisting children to climb up trees. We love explaining the best way to use their bodies to succeed as they climb but are wary of helping them reach a goal that they’re not physically or emotionally able to hold. Many of the self taught activities of the Secret Garden rely on physical experience and strength, a lot of watching peers and a huge amount of perseverance which develops emotional resilience. When your child does succeed in climbing the tree, or jumping on the swing, the sense of achievement is phenomenal for child and staff!


Fife Council Funding - Updated July 2014

Your child is entitled to 600 hours of preschool funding over the academic year, broken down to 15 hours 50 minutes over a week, 3 hours 10 minutes for 1 session.

Fife Council funding is a grant made available by Fife Council to help parents pay for pre-school nursery child care.  Each child is entitled to a total funding of 600 hours;  5 x 3 hour 10 minute sessions of pre-school nursery care per week, during school term-times only. Funding is paid at a rate of £4 per hour which means that the maximum a child can receive in any academic year is £2406.66. In order to receive pre-school funding this year, your child must be:

·         Four between 1st March 2014 and 28th February 2015, or

·         Five between 1st January 2015 and 28th February 2015 – deferred year

·         Three between 1st March and 31st August 2014, eligible from August 2014

·         Three between 1st September and 31st December 2014, eligible form January 2015

·         Three between 1st January and 28th February 2015, eligible form April 2015

If your child meets the above criteria, and is attending a Local Authority Nursery and/or a Partner Provider Nursery, then he/she should be eligible. If your child is attending more than one such nursery, then your funding entitlement may be split between up to two different recognised providers. However, Fife Council will only fund you if the number of sessions that you are doing is split 3/2 between the two different nurseries.

Therefore, if your child is doing 4 sessions at, say, a Local Authority nursery and one full day at the Secret Garden, then it is not possible to obtain funding for the 5th session at the Secret Garden. Fife Council does not regard this as ‘value for money’ and will therefore not fund any single session claims, even if the child is attending for a full day. If you were to reduce your sessions at the Local Authority nursery to a maximum of 3, you would then be able to get the other two sessions at The Secret Garden funded as well.

In order to receive the grant, you must fill in an application form which the Secret Garden will submit to the Council for you; this details the sessions your child attends here, and at any other nurseries. Any pre-school funding you receive for sessions at the Secret Garden will be paid directly to the Secret Garden. Once we have received confirmation of your entitlement (per term), we pass that on to you in the form of a reduction in the monthly standing order payable.  


And finally, here are some tips from ‘old hands’ – parents/carers of Secret Gardeners:


No matter what you think about the weather, try to be positive as this will rub off on the children. Turn rainy days into lots of puddles to play in, a drink for the plants and good news for farmers who are growing crops…
Grandparents and even some neighbours and friends sometimes need a little reminder that the children see things differently from adults and that we're not being cruel by exposing them to all weathers. We are creating opportunities and memories which will stay with them.
There's no such thing as bad weather, just inappropriate clothing.


Drop-off and mud

Be prepared for an initial sense of doubt on dropping your little one(s) off in the pouring rain as you dash back indoors as quick as possible. Enough to say as confidence grows with staff (and with your own child’s resilience), it soon passes.
Don’t worry about sending your child to the Secret Garden in muddy clothes! They don't have to look immaculate as they certainly won't be at the end of the day!
If you're heading to work after dropping your child off at the park, keep a pair of wellies in the car. This saves you having to clean your shoes in the sink at work!


Pick-up and mud

If you like to have a clean car, keep an old car mat in the boot and stand your child on it next to the car to take off their wellies and dirty clothes. Alternatively, change in the lovely mud shelter. A trug in the boot is handy for really muddy clothes.
Check the label for washing waterproofs. Some have a coating and you shouldn't use a detergent as it strips away the waterproofing. If you must wash them, a warm-water-only wash in your machine does just as well.
Be on the look-out for hidden twigs, stones, fungus, flower heads, etc. in pockets and rucksacks before putting items in the wash!



Waterproof trousers with braces are best as they don't get pulled down when sliding down muddy hills. Waterproof trousers without braces are best as they are easier for toileting. (SG says: ‘Even our parents/carers don’t always agree! Good quality waterproofs are important – please do check them regularly so your child stays dry and happy!’)
Fleece as a mid-layer top and bottom works much better than cotton as it is warmer and less likely to get saturated with water. Ones with cuffs work well to tuck under socks so they don't pull up when the child puts on the outer layer.
Standard wellies offer very little warmth; neoprene wellies or snow-boots are much better for colder days.
Have a supply of cheap gloves (‘magic’ gloves are good) and send a few in with your child each day so that they have dry ones if they get wet. Sew your child’s name on if you want to stand a chance of not losing any!



The rucksacks provided are great but not waterproof. Put spare clothing in a waterproof dry bag (eg. those by Exped) inside the rucksack (plastic bags leak!) Put a spare carrier bag in the rucksack to put wet or soiled clothing in.



Little food flasks to keep spaghetti, macaroni, beans, pasta, etc warm are handy, but a food flask and a drink flask together may be a bit too heavy. Food and drink containers should be easy to open – think cold fingers on small hands – this encourages independence as your child is less reliant on adult help. A small flask of hot chocolate goes down a treat on winter days!