Parents across the county are being encouraged to reap the benefits of early year’s education.

Hertfordshire County Council are offering 15 hours a week, or 570 hours a year, for free early education for all three and four year olds in the county. These hours can be used with a school, a childminder, day nursery or pre-school.

In some cases, three and four-year-old children will be eligible for an extra 15 hours of childcare, taking them to 30 hours a week, a scheme launched nationally on September 1 this year.

Depending on circumstances some two-year-olds may also be eligible for 15 hours of childcare a week.

Research has shown that children who take part in early education see significant improvements in their language, social skills, learning and development.

A recent event children met someone from the fire service, a police officer, a scientist, a nurse and a highways engineer to help kids to think about how the world around them and even consider future careers.

Rosie Aitken has noticed three-year-old Macie’s confidence increase since joining nursery at the age of two.

She said: “Macie has been with a childminder since she was nine months old because I had to go back to work. Then when she turned two, I thought it was a good idea to send her to nursery to have more social skills and interact with larger groups.

“She enjoys nursery and has grown in confidence and is doing really well. She will often role play what happened at nursery during the day at home. Her social skills have come along since starting nursery.

“Macie has enjoyed having her pictures taken and I am so proud of her. She loved playing at the event at County Hall and was so excited to see the fire engine. I want to give her every opportunity to be whatever she chooses to be when she grows up.”

Cllr Terry Douris, for education, said: “Hertfordshire is a great place to raise a family and we want every child to have the best start in life.

“Early education is the best way to help their development and ensure they do well in school.

“It is also a great way for children to socialise with people outside of their family in a safe environment.”

Parents can check if they are eligible for free early education and childcare by visiting