The Third Door Story | Daycare and Workhub

Sometimes simple ideas are born out of the founders own needs…

Back in 2008, Shazia was trying to work around her five month old daughter and found it extremely difficult. She wished for a place where she could work in peace whilst her baby was cared for nearby and ‘Eureka’ there was the seed for Third Door (daycare and workhub)!

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Shazia researched the idea and found that trends for home working and new technology allowed more and more people to work from home and also more people were choosing to become freelancers once they became parents. Shazia proposed the idea to her husband who was also studying for his MBA at the time. Yusuf immediately understood the need for this new concept being a homeworker himself and experiencing how difficult it was to work from home around his new baby. He used the Third Door idea to write a feasibility study for his MBA dissertation. When he received a Distinction for this new concept, Shazia decided to take voluntary redundancy from her work despite being pregnant with their second child.

Third Door (daycare and workhub) was launched in May 2010, and has grown from being a conceptual idea to a business with employees and one that is making a net profit. Third Door has won several awards since the launch including ‘Best  local business’ in a competition run by Lloyds TSB and Heart FM , resulting in three weeks of advertising airtime in December 2010 and being recognised as a top 100 disruptive and innovative business by Smarta 100 in 2011. We have had members who have been using our services and facilities now since launch with new members being referred to by our existing members – exactly where we want to be.

With the arrival of their third child in June 2012 and their eldest starting school in September 2012, the founders are still working hard on Third Door’s Nursery and Workhub, ensuring that the current site in SW18 is being utilised in all the ways it can as well as working towards fulfilling the vision for a Third Door in every urban town in the UK and making the lives of professional parents that little bit easier.

  • If you’d like any information about our workhub and daycare in Putney, Wandsworth please contact us. We’d love to hear from you. 
Education for the Under Two’s

Education for the Under Two’s

The first two years of a child’s life is a time for incredible development and growth in all areas.  As parents and practitioners at Third Door (Workhub & Nursery) we want to do what we can to support and nurture both. This article aims to demonstrate the important role we all play in preparing under twos for future success, in developing self-confidence and motivated learners.

Learning to read and write does not start once a child turns three – language and literacy development begins at birth through loving interactions shared every day. In the Nursery environment similarly to home, we share books, tell stories, sing songs and talk to one another. There are also endless opportunities to develop skills during play in our Nursery with the under 2’s lifting, pouring, bouncing, looking, hiding, building and knocking down items.

Children are learning mathematical concepts such as balancing blocks to create a tower, or the scientific notion for example of what floats and sinks.  However play does not only support the more educational elements of development but also the social and emotional aspects.  As our Early Years Practitioners  play with the children, they are understanding that they are important, loved and fun to be around.  Such social, emotional skills provide self-esteem and self-confidence that the children require to continue building supportive and loving relationships throughout their lives.

Babies are born with a determination to relate and connect with others, and they will continue to develop the skills needed to form strong, healthy relationships.  For example I recently observed a 6 month old baby gazing at her mother’s face as she was breastfed.  The baby recognised her mum as the loving, special person who is always there, the child had calmed down almost immediately as she was picked up by her mother and held close. The baby is learning that she is loved and that she can trust others to care and look after her.  Also last week when we were in the park, when a child tripped over and began crying, another child just under two years ran over and started to rub their back (like she had seen her parents or practitioners do).  The child is learning how to empathise with and understand another’s emotions and feelings.

Below are some ideas for developing relationship-building skills in under twos, we ensure we adapt each bullet point within the Third Door Nursery setting…

  • Allow for some unstructured, uninterrupted time with your child every day – let the child be the leader in deciding what to play.  Do not multi task during this playtime.  When you have to return to daily chores with your baby, narrate what you are doing and offer interesting, related objects to keep that connection with you, for example a wooden spoon when cooking.
  • Let your child know you’re interested in their activities – display a genuine interest, whatever they are doing. Often adult attention (particularly that from parents) is what they desire and are over the moon to receive.  This morning I watched a child placing blocks into a large bowl, I joined and we took in turns to do it, giving a small scream each time we dropped one.  By doing this I was encouraging him to experience and value the enjoyment of back and forth play which is an important aspect of effective relationships.
  • Provide opportunities for your child to develop relationships with peers – It is the perfect time when attending nursery to practice skills such as sharing, taking turns, resolving conflict, this not only helps develop friendships and relationships with others, but develops their social and emotional development.

When I recruit staff to care for the younger children I look for some special traits, I look for warmth and that they empathise and look through the child’s eyes and through their feelings, so they know how to interact playfully and lovingly on a child’s level.  Also that they are relaxed and caring when ensuring the child’s physical needs and daily routines are followed.

We are lucky to have a room that is flexible and can be rearranged as often or as little as we wish. Recently we rearranged the Nursery environment to enhance the feeling of security for the younger babies.  We wanted to allow all age groups to be able to explore and experiment with resources and materials that are age appropriate, and stimulate and motivate the children.  However, we wanted to ensure that we still allowed for all the children to interact and communicate between the different age groups and to guarantee the family group ethos we promote at Third Door (Workhub & Nursery).

We believe we have now created a truly enabling environment, where children relax, play and learn in their age groups and can also come together in a family environment, thus allowing older children to learn how to care for younger children and younger children emulate and learn from the older children.

Gemma

Will proposed ratios lower childcare costs?

Will proposed ratios lower childcare costs?

Staff are not the only costs in running a Nursery, there are plenty of other reasons to why childcare in the UK is expensive.

It feels almost everyday we hear how expensive childcare costs are in the UK and to her credit, Children’s Minister Liz Truss is attempting to help lower costs. The media is buzzing today with the announcement that nurseries and childminders in England are to be allowed to look after more children per adult in an attempt to cut childcare costs and boost standards.

However, I feel that the fundamental question ‘Why is Childcare in the UK expensive?’ has not been asked.

I’m a mum of three children aged 5 and under and have been a Nursery owner for almost three years. Only by tightly managing the cash flow and budgets, have I managed to make a small profit so far.  I also have my two youngest children in the Nursery and from that perspective, I would not change the ratio’s of the staff if I want the quality of my provision to stay high.

However, whilst staff costs are a major factor of the running costs of the Nursery, there are many other reasons why childcare costs are expensive in the UK:

  1. Location obviously impacts the cost of childcare.  Areas such as London are a lot more expensive than in other parts of the country, primarily due to high rent.
  2. VAT. What hasn’t been discussed is the fact that any VAT cost associated with a Nursery cannot be claimed back.  I am lucky that at Third Door (Workhub & Nursery), we have a Workhub where parents can work and therefore is not classed as ‘Education’. This means the business can claim back a portion of VAT on rent, electricity, phone, cleaning etc. However, anything that is solely for the Nursery such as equipment, consumables and training cannot be claimed back although the business pays the VAT.
  3. Business Rates. Business Rates are expensive and to date, as a small Nursery provider, I have had no outside help at all to help with any costs especially to ease the cost of business rates
  4. Strictness of childcare ratio’s. This is what the current news story is all about and I feel that whilst the ratio’s should not change especially to prevent accidents and incidents, there should be some relaxation of the law. For example, if a setting/Nursery room is currently over ratio by just one child, an extra member of staff needs to be brought in which adds to costs. If this aspect was relaxed, it would save money to the business.
  5. Training.  All staff need to attend key training to help manage a Nursery and provide excellent quality in provision. This training covers Childcare safeguarding, food hygiene, first aid and fire safety. Perhaps this is where the Government can help and offer a grant to train staff in all mandatory training courses. At the moment, this training is a business cost.
  6. Supplies. Every month we spend a considerable amount of money on regular supplies such as art and craft, messy play, cleaning products, paper towels, tissues, gloves and aprons. This cost builds up, as for example, a different set of gloves and apron are used every time one nappy is changed.
  7. Tax benefits. At present, employed parents only receive childcare vouchers whilst self-employed parents do not. Childcare should be a business expense that can be claimed back to help working parents. Third Door (Workhub & Nursery) has a solution in that it can split invoices to those customers who use both our Nursery and Workhub. The customer can claim the Workhub element back as a business expense making their childcare costs cheaper than those customers who are paying for only our Nursery.

Therefore costs such as staff salaries, rent, business rates, consumables, training all amount up, meaning nurseries have to cover their costs before they make any money. I do not think that allowing more children to be looked after by one adult is necessarily going to bring costs down by itself without taking the above factors also into account.

Additionally, there is only one solution at the moment in term of Childcare vouchers which actually helps parents. If the Government helped Nursery providers, especially the smaller ones with some kind of funding, and allow parents to claim childcare as a business, childcare costs will be lower.

Third Door (Workhub & Nursery) has come up with a solution in that it offers our customers a flexible Nursery. We operate the same as any other Ofsted nursery in terms of EYFS, quality, care and consistency, however, parents are able to chose the days and sessions around their needs, and downgrade their package if on holiday. This flexibility means that parents are not spending money on childcare when on holiday or even when their child is sick for a long period of time.  This helps save costs for the customer as they know they are paying for childcare only when they need it, and if they are on our ‘combined’ package of both Workhub & Nursery, their childcare costs are even cheaper.

If the proposed ratio’s are implemented in September this year, as a nursery owner, I am inclined not to move to the 1 to 6 ratio for two to three years old’s in Third Door (Workhub & Nursery) but stick to providing a 1 to 4 ratio for all under 3’s and monitor the impact on the nursery, children and staff.

Deputy Prime Minister announces new legislation from innovative Putney based business

Deputy Prime Minister announces new legislation from innovative Putney based business

Third Door (Workhub & Nursery) was chosen as the venue to announce flexible parental leave and extending the right to request flexible working to everyone.

 14 Nov – The Cabinet Press Office chose innovative Putney based business, Third Door (Workhub & Nursery) as the venue to unveil Deputy Prime Minister’s keynote speech on flexible parental leave and the right to request flexible working to everyone, not just parents.

Third Door (Workhub & Nursery) provides parents both a flexible professional workspace to work from and more importantly, a flexible daycare Nursery that fits around their needs as a working parent.

Shazia, the cofounder of Third Door said, “Last week, the press team for the Cabinet Office approached Third Door as a possible venue for the Deputy Prime Ministers keynote speech.

Flexibility is core to what we provide at Third Door and the press team were very excited to have found us in their web search as Third Door ticked so many boxes for them including shared parental duties and flexible childcare”.

Nick Clegg was interviewed by the media from the Third Door Nursery. He also made time to meet the children in the Nursery and their parents in the Workhub.

Nick Clegg at Third Door (Workhub & Nursery)

Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg said:

“As a Government we want to give parents more choice so it was fantastic to visit Third Door and see for myself the service they are providing for working mums and dads and their children.”

“Like many of the best ideas it is a brilliantly simple concept, but one that took two truly inspirational people to think up. Third Door gives people flexibility and choice so they can combine a fulfilling career with one of the most rewarding jobs there is – being a parent.”

One half of the Third Door Workhub was converted into a conference room where Shazia introduced the Deputy Prime Minister to an audience of 80 people including Third Door members.

 

 

Shazia welcomes the announcement with open arms, stating,  “It’s about time we did move into the 21st Century and today’s announcement is certainly one step closer. Third Door is already ahead of the game having met a gap in the market for flexible Nurseries and allowing fathers to be able to spend quality time with their child during the working week and not just weekends. We are thrilled with the endorsement from the Deputy Prime Minister and hope that in the not too distance future that there are Third Door facilities throughout the UK”.

See related media:

 

 

 

Halloween Party at Third Door (Workhub & Nursery)

Halloween Party at Third Door (Workhub & Nursery)

Thank you to everyone for attending the Halloween Party on Saturday October 27th. We hope you all had as much fun as we did!! It was lovely seeing everyone was getting involved in all the activities, from Hannah and Gareth showing everyone exactly how to bob for apples and Lexi giving it her all on the dance floor during the “Baby Beats” session. Besides the children’s initial horror of seeing us all dressed up as vampires and witches, everyone looked like they were having fun.

The children’s costumes were the best! We had several mini-pumpkins, the youngest pumpkin – Henna was as young as four months! Then, there were little witches, ghosts, spiders and skeletons. Everyone made such an effort! Even some parents dressed up! Checkout the photos on Facebook.

We converted our Nursery into spooky adventure room with disco lights, arts and crafts and games for children and parents. Kids played in green gloop filled with spiders, made their own spider web, coated sweets in flour, and even decorated their own spooky Halloween cupcakes (to be honest most of cupcake decorations went straight to their little mouths) but all together great fun! Our guests had also a chance to buy raffle tickets to win a free session in our nursery, ‘Happy Hopperz’ bouncing toy and books. The lucky winners were revealed on Monday; Lou was thrilled with her free nursery session, so were mums of little Charlotte and Florence winning books and toys.

Our special guest – Alice entertained the crowd with her ‘Baby Beats’, music and arts class tailored especially for our Halloween Party in mind! There was singing, dancing, clapping, games and bubbles blowing. And all guests loved it! The children also loved the glitter tattoos, face painting and playing with a green gloop.

Our wonderful members also contributed to the success of the party: Karen and Patrick O’Neil the founders of RDA Organic donated their super – tasty, organic fruit juices. We had a pleasure to taste many different flavours and all guests got a bag with the juice to take home.

We’ve had wonderful feedback from everyone who attended and hope to schedule in more regular parties for our members and their friends in the future. Organizing regular events for both parents and children is integral to what Third Door offers to the wider community and we hope that we can continue improving our parties in 2013 and that you can join us in the future!

Anna

Learning through Play

Learning through Play

As practitioners and parents/carers we all agree that play is essential and fundamental to a child’s physical, social, emotional and intellectual development. Play is what children do every day, for the young children attending Third Door there is no distinguish between this and learning, although it can be categories such as social, quiet and creative.

All children love to play, and during this time they are provided with many opportunities for learning. I believe it is the most important way in which children learn about the world around them whether it is looking through a picture book – pictures representing objects and words labelling the objects or dressing up and playing in the home corner- using small muscles, recreating their own world, sharing materials and communication with other children.

During my career I have encountered parents that worry that their children are “just playing” and not learning things they need to learn. Whereas I agree structured support, guidance and teaching of young children is vital, we must all remember play is learning and it does guide and support the children’s development.

At Third Door we have designed and intended the daily routine to be rich and meaningful encouraging new experiences and we promote this through a number of methods. For example by providing sufficient time for play – we understand children require time to explore an activity and too many stops and starts will lead to frustration and hinder their imagination from developing and interactions with others to occur. Also we plan and offer the children a selection of play experiences every day as different types of play lead to different kinds of learning experiences, in addition we understand that an activity for one child may result in a different learning experience for another.

As part of our daily routine we have time dedicated to free-flow play activities. This can sound vague, but this time incorporates planned activities, which is available to be viewed weekly on the intranet site. During this time the children have the freedom to select among many different activities, these activities have been planned around the findings from observations and the children’s interests expressed in the week prior. During this time all practitioners at Third Door understand they need to be paying close attention to the children, interacting and encouraging each individual, while offering them guidance but at the same time allowing the child to lead the play. This also presents the practitioners with the chance to complete observations, which will then inform future planning hence forthcoming activities.

Research has shown that children who are exposed to different types of play such as pretend play are usually more jubilant and cooperative; they can be more willing to take turns and share, display greater creativity in their play and can have larger vocabularies than those less involved in play activities.

We ensure we support each child in their play. We understand the importance of play and how much the children are learning. Every day we engage with your child and provide opportunities for them to interact with adults and other children when playing. By building towers, painting, running, singing and dancing we are watching the children learn, evolve and progress.

Effective learning through play can be achieved not just in a setting such as Third Door but also when spending time with family…

  • By providing a wide variety of play experiences and materials which children can try new things, by experimenting, asking questions, get messy at times and exploring and listening
  • By focusing on the learning that can occur during play, using play as a method to teach and enhance development
  • By providing opportunities to play outdoors as well as indoors
  • Allowing time for free play in which children are selecting and leading play, balanced with structured play
  • Encourage creativity, curiosity and the child’s longing to want to know more

 

Our Director loves making homemade popcorn necklaces and bracelets with her children. Adding colour, learning how to thread as well as counting the number of popcorn onthe bracelet incorporate so many different areas. It’s important to build on an activity that your child has shown an interest in and adding variations to it.

Let us know what activities you have found worked for you with your little ones at home.

Love

 

Gemma, Nursery Manager

Benefits of mixed-age groups in Early Childhood

Benefits of mixed-age groups in Early Childhood

The nursery practitioners at Third Door understand the importance of family and we work closely with parents to achieve an outstanding parent/carer relationship. We ensure we listen and respect individual needs and follow the routines of life at home. By providing a mixed-age group environment we promote the relationships similar to that within a family setup. The children learn to play and communicate appropriately much like brothers and sisters. In fact Third Door child care includes siblings where the parents see the mixed age group as an advantage to building on a great sibling partnership.

Many parents will wonder whether it’s best to leave their babies in a mixed age environment or not. Mixed age groups are more likened to a natural family environment with older and younger brothers and sisters.

“Babies, who are around older children, like my son is at Third Door, often learn a lot from the older ones and learn through watching how the older children play and communicate. I am from a big family and feel that this is the natural place for my son, as he’s part of a tight-knit family group who meet, play and learn with each other, every day.” Third Door member, Kath Clarke and parent of 7 month old

Research shows one of the greatest ways children learn is from each other rather than adults, so the mixed age child care we provide sets the stage for this type of learning and development. Studies have also displayed children in small multi age groups often display less competitive behaviour and greater displays of helpfulness. Having gained experience in a variety of settings over the past decade, I have found the dynamics of the relationship between the children at Third Door reflect this research. The older children understand that you need to be patient with the younger babies whether that is reflected in sharing the resources or why they cry as they become tired.

Another example is that of an 18 month old, who recently had to manage the arrival of a new sibling, the child’s mother commented how gentle and kind hearted he is towards his sister and we too observed the child kissing a younger child on the forehead as they slept. This demonstrates the compassionate and caring relationships between the different age groups that Third Door embraces and cultivates.

As experienced nursery practitioners, all of us agree we benefit from observing each child grow and develop over a longer period of time which in turn allows us to form closer, longer term relationships with them. This in turn allows us to fully understand and plan a vast variety of activities that they all can enjoy and draw on their interests to truly support their development.

“Recently we created a potion lab in the role play area; the 3 year olds loved the story telling pretending to be a good witch, ‘writing’ ingredients for potions and creating spells. The two year olds enjoyed investigating the water, pouring and mixing the different colours as the one year olds explored the textures of the custard, flour and pasta.” Vicky Heggie, Deputy Manager

Our mixed age nursery is a fulfilling and sensitive learning environment that adopts a healthy approach and style towards learning. We achieve this by respecting the learning needs of all the children that attend and thrive at Third Door.

 

Third Door recognised for innovation

The news agenda has been recently dominated by the announcement that more and more women are leaving their jobs to look after their families, due to the high cost of childcare. But, here at Third Door we are working to break the mould of traditional childcare by offering flexibility to families.

As a result we have recently been shortlisted for two prestigious industry awards. The Nursery World Awards 2011 and O2 Smarta Business Awards both have recognised Third Door as an innovative business. The Smarta Awards are a collection of the UK’s savviest, enterprising, most disruptive small businesses in the UK. Naturally, we were delighted to be finalists in both these prestigious awards. We set up Third Door last year as we recognised UK work patterns were shifting. As a result, we have been inundated with new membership requests recently as parents look for a solution that will help them juggle work and childcare. So much so, we are currently looking at locations for our next Third Door site…more on that to follow soon!

We’ve recently been awarded a Good in Ofsted with an Outstanding in the Parent-Carer category. In the meantime wish us luck in getting through the another award we have been shortlisted for: Nursery Management Today ‘ Best New Business’ :-)

The Story behind Third Door

Third Door has been lucky with the amount of press coverage we have had since we launched the business back in May 2010. We have been covered by BBC Radio London Breakfast show, BBC London News, The Guardian (twice!), FT, Nursery World (three times), won a few awards along the way (Best Start Up, Best Local Business by Lloyds TSB, Smarta 100 2011 winner, and a finalist for a few others). It’s been great and really helped us stamp ourselves as the first in the UK to enter the area of merging a workspace for the self-employed/home workers with a flexible onsite nursery.

The concept of Third Door is such a brilliant simple idea that has left many people asking why it it hasn’t been done before. However, more importantly, I believe the story behind Third Door has helped us gain much of this press coverage. It is a lovely story and I would recommend that everyone starting their own brand or company also pulls together the story behind their business. People are always interested in stories and we have used our story countless times. It is one that I will never tire of telling as the story has led to me launching and working passionately on Third Door and also as a result I am lucky enough to take both my children with me to work everyday!

When my daughter was 5 months old and I was halfway through my maternity leave, I realised that I didn’t want to go back to my corporate job (Global Brand Research Manager), which as wonderful as the company I was working for is, I just didn’t want to do any global travelling or commute full-stop.
I had always harboured ambition to set up my own business so I decided to get together with a like minded friend and brainstorm as many ideas as we could. So with our daughters in tow we started our brainstorming session. However, what we didn’t expect was how difficult it was to get into the flow of ‘brainstorming’ whilst tending to the needs of our girls with one of the girls constantly needing some kind of attention, be it nappy change, feeding, entertaining, holding etc.

So in a bid to get them to sleep we went to the local Starbuck’s and then the local park, both of which made no difference. I remember clearly feeling very frustrated and saying to my friend how great it would be to leave the girls somewhere where they could be looked after whilst we worked nearby!

Being a researcher, I started looking into this idea and found a similar idea based in the States. Additionally a number of insights were revealed, some new, some old; many new mums are to reluctant to return back to work as they are nervous about placing their child in childcare. More dads want to spend more time with their child during the workday instead of just mornings, evenings and weekends. More and more people are able to work from home with the advent of mobile technology; all one needs is internet access, a laptop and mobile phone and they can work from anywhere in the world.

However, with this comes the added problem of loneliness, missing the office buzz and having the distraction of household chores. Third Door would solve many of these problems and through creating a membership space we would enable networking, collaboration and a sense of community. One of the most important insights was lack of flexibility in the traditional nursery model and at Third Door, members would be able to pick the sessions they needed as long as they give enough notice.

My husband and co-founder, was studying for his MBA (self-funded) at the same time and was just finalising his dissertation project. I suggested he focus on this idea I had been researching. He thought it was a no-brainer as he was feeling all the pain points I had already identified of working from home around a small child. Yusuf worked hard on a feasibility plan of our concept. We were thrilled when he received a distinction for it. At around the same time, my employers had announced that they were making redundancies so I decided to take voluntary redundancy (despite just finding out we were expecting baby no.2).

The next big step was to get funding for our project. We worked hard to turn the feasibility study into a fully functional business plan with all the right numbers for the bank, only to be told a big ‘NO’ by the bank! We were informed that they could not compare our business against anything similar so they didn’t want to take the risk (at around this moment of time, the recession had just been officially announced, hence the reluctance by the bank).

Obviously we were gutted but rather than give up so early in the process, we decided to pool together all our savings. We remortgaged our home and sold some equity to friends and family. We then went ahead with logo design, finding premises, strongly negotiating everything so we could save money. I worked right up to the night our son was born – I had a week’s rest before I was back working towards the launch. We decided not to give up and to presevere as we totally believe in Third Door and we knew we would end up being grumpy old people if someone else ended up doing it instead of us! That’s enough to get the fire going, new baby or not!

We launched the business when our son was 6 months old and it’s been quite a journey to date. The business model has evolved with time, but we are still true to our vision of excellent customer service and helping make the lives of working parents that little bit easier! Our long-term plan is to have a Third Door in every urban town in the UK and we would love to meet any interested parties along the way who help us realise our vision and be part of the journey.

I’d love to hear you comments and if you also have a story to tell, we’d love to have you as a guest speaker at a Third Door event.

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