Frequently Asked Questions

What are your term dates?

Spring Term, 2020:

Monday 13th January  - Friday 27th March 2020 (10 week term)

No classes Monday 17th Feb - Friday 21 Feb (half term)

Summer Term, 2020:

Monday 20th April - Friday 3rd July 2020 (10 week term, except Fridays at Lauderdale - no class Friday 8th May for Bank Holiday - so a 9 week term)

No classes Monday 25th May - Friday 29th May 2020 (half term)

Do I have to book for the whole term?

Places are booked and paid for in advance for the term. This will guarantee your place, which many parents prefer, so they can arrange nursery days around Little Owl. Booking termly gives a real continuity to the class so we can consolidate our learning. You can carry ONE class over to the following term if you need to miss a class (see ‘what if my child is ill’ question below).

Do you offer taster sessions?

A one-off taster class can be booked and paid for online, if we have space. Please bear in mind whole term bookings will get priority so it could mean there’s no space left in that class once you’ve done your taster. Because of this we offer a money back guarantee if you sign-up and change your mind. If you don’t like the class we’ll refund you for the rest of the term! Please email us if you'd like to book a taster session.

What if my child is ill?

If your child is ill you can carry ONE class over to the next term (this will be a discount code off the price of next term’s classes). You need to tell us via email if you’d like to carry a class over. You can also do a ‘make-up’ class another day, week or venue, subject to availability. Or, if you prefer, you can always send an eligible friend in your place. You will still get access to the online phonics videos and will be given your missed activity sheets and art activity at the following session.

Do you do drop-in places at all?

We used to do just drop-in but found our numbers were getting unmanageable and many people were disappointed when they’d turn up but found the class was full.  Termly bookings take priority but any unsold places may be available a day or so before the class as drop-in spots, to be booked and paid for online. Sorry but there are no refunds for these drop-in sessions. All classes have strict maximum limits on numbers though, so there’s no guarantee drop-in places will be available from week to week.

How many children are in a class?

We restrict our numbers to keep the classes enjoyable for everyone and to ensure each child gets their voice heard! Numbers will depend on venue but will be between 12-15 maximum.

Little Owl is ‘educational’ – what does that mean?

Book Club is something you can enjoy with your child but still be certain they’re getting educational value. We cover all of the learning and development aspects of the Early Years Foundation Stage and rely on its guidance for planning and executing our classes. For more detailed information see the EYFS section via our home page.

I see the children learn phonics – what is that?

Phonics is part of every child's reading journey. At Little Owl we encourage pre-reading skills such as listening for sounds and being familiar with rhyme and the rhythm of speech. Hearing stories read aloud and interacting with them are a hugely important part of this process. Children will also start to recognise and decode the alphabet and this is where the teaching of phonics comes in.

Phonics simply means the sounds of the letters which make up words. By learning to listen for the sounds of letters children are one step closer to blending these sounds together to read words. The name of the letter can come later and is important but at Little Owl we first concentrate on the sounds. For example, if you break down the word DOG:the letter D makes the sound DUR (not DEE), the letter O makes the sound O (not OWE) and the letter G makes the sound GUH (not GEE). If you blend these sounds, you get dur-o-guh for DOG, not DEE-OWE-GEE, which doesn’t blend.

To help the children remember their sounds we use an active learning system so each sound has an action. We concentrate on the ‘initial sounds’: those common letters which start many words. We also work in lower case rather than capitals simply because these letters are more common when a child begins to read. We do though like to help each child recognise the capital letter at the start of their name.

The phonics elements of our classes are devised and monitored by Mrs Neal, an Early Years specialist teacher with 35 years in the classroom. She also taught reading recovery for the last 10 years. You can see her on our You Tube channel with many of the sounds we learn in class.

My child is younger than 2 but seems to love books, could they come?

We do have some children from 20/22 months who really benefit from the class. If you think your child can sit for a time and listen to a story, be comfortable walking around and following basic instructions, and be out of the phase of putting everything in their mouths, they could be ready. Do ask if you have further questions.

What if my child just doesn’t like it?

We hope they will but please be assured that we offer a money-back guarantee if this is the case! (Full details below). Sometimes children are just not ready for Little Owl but remember at this age they change quickly and often coming back a few months down the line can make all the difference.

Why are you more expensive than some toddler groups?

We’re really different to a drop-in toddler group! You’ll see from our pictures that each class is set-up rather like a nursery with a reading area, an art table, and areas for games. We don’t arrive 5 minutes before and throw a few cushions on the floor! We usually need to hire a room for a minimum of 1.5 hours for each (50 minute) class and many venues have a 2 hour minimum hire. All classes are carefully planned and tested and follow EYFS guidance. There are ‘homework’ sheets, online resources, and a specially created art activity to make and take home. Our numbers are strictly limited so each child can have a positive experience. We hope you'll think you're getting your money's worth!

What about babies and younger siblings – can I bring them?

We recognise that many parents and carers will bring younger siblings to class and it’s no problem. Siblings only pay when they’re old enough to join in and that’s usually not until at least 20 months. Carers do need to appreciate though that some siblings can be disruptive to the rest of the class so need to use their judgement at certain times (for example, during our story or on the alphabet mat). It’s also important to know that the class is safe for 2+, but there may be equipment around that’s not baby/crawler/toddler-proof. And finally, please keep a close eye on the younger ones so they don’t destroy what has been set-up for their older siblings!

How do I pay?

All payments can be made online via the website - just click on Book a Class. All classes, whether drop-in or termly, should be paid for in advance, via our booking page.

Siblings get a 10% discount which comes up automatically when you fill in the 2nd child's details on our booking form.

Twins get an extra 5% discount off their fees so please contact us for details of this discount code before booking. 

I might join mid-term, does this matter?

If there’s a place available and you join mid-term the price will be adjusted pro-rata.

Just remind me about the money-back guarantee?

If you've signed up for the term and decide you don't like the class for whatever reason, we'll refund your remaining classes. No quibble, no fuss!