Nurseries provide child care for children from birth to 5 years. They will mostly be open through the working week from 8-6 and you book set ‘sessions’ for your child. Many are open year round but some will close for bank holidays and over Christmas.
They follow the Early Years Foundation Stage curriculum – this is about supporting children to learn through play. You can find out more about this *here*.
Some benefits of nursery are;
- They are staffed by qualified early year’s professionals and your child will benefit from a range of different skills and experience.
- They have age appropriate toys, activities and outside play too.
- Your child gets to play and learn with children their own age.
- They prepare children for a ‘school like’ environment. They have structures and routines which help children feel safe and secure.
- They can still open if a member of staff is ill or on holiday.
Drawbacks might be;
- Your child might be cared for by staff they don’t know as well to cover sickness/holiday.
- Children often move into different areas with different staff as they get older.
- They may not have a ‘family feel’ and siblings of different ages are cared for separately.
- There may be extra charges for meals and some activities.
Ofsted registered Childminders are childcare professionals. They have to prove that they can provide children with a safe and stimulating environment.
Childminders are inspected every three years by Ofsted. They are given an identifying number which they should share with you. You can then read their Ofsted report *here*.
Childminders follow the Early Years Foundation Stage curriculum – this is about supporting children to learn through play. You can find out more about this *here*.
Some benefits of a childminder;
- Childminders work from their own home. They may be more flexible with available hours.
- You can ‘choose’ a childminder with very similar ideas on raising children as you.
- Your child is usually in a more ‘family feel’ environment and can learn from ‘everyday experiences’ like going to the shops or helping make lunch.
- They have fewer children to care for at any one time, and they will be in a mixed age group.
- If your child is under one it will be the only baby cared for when there (unless you have asked them to care for your twins!).
Some drawbacks might be;
- If you your childminder is unwell or takes a holiday – you may find yourself without childcare at short notice.
- Your child may be cared for with a mix of ages and that might affect activities available.
- They might have to fit in around ‘school pick ups/ drop offs.’
Nanny’s are the employee of the person / people who hire them to care for their child/children.
There is no legal requirement in the UK for a nanny to have a particular qualification. Many parents decide it is important to employ a qualified childcare professional.
Nannies can care for the children of no more than two families in one of the family’s home. This allows for two families to share a nanny.
Benefits of having a Nanny
- Flexibility of having childcare in your own home and being able to ask for the hours you need.
- One professional focusing just on your children.
- Able to care for your child if they are unwell.
- You can be specific on how you would like your child’s day to be structured and what you would like them to do.
Some drawbacks might be;
- You will be an employer. You will need to pay national insurance, pension and sickness and holiday pay. Read more about your responsibilities *here*.
- You have to place a lot of trust in one person without much monitoring.
- If your Nanny is going to live in your home you need space and may lose some private family time.
- Your child might have less opportunity to socialise with other children.
Pre-schools and playgroups are often run in local communities by a mixture of child care professional and some volunteers.
Children can usually attend fro the ages of 2/3 years .They may be attached to local schools or sometimes church groups They tend to have a morning and / or afternoon session but don’t usually offer childcare across the whole day.
Benefits of pre-schools and playgroups are;
- They are usually in your local community.
- Your child can meet children that they will move into reception with.
- They offer a shorter sessions to help children adjust to being in a ‘setting.’
- They tend to run in term time only so you don’t have to pay during school holidays.
Some drawbacks might be;
- They can be difficult to use as childcare for working parents because of shorter sessions.
- They are not usually open all year round.
- They are not available for children under 2/3 years old.
There are some practical questions to ask;
- Do you have space on the days and times I need?
- How much do you charge and how and when do I pay. Do you take childcare vouchers and / or funded places?
- What is the staff to child ratio and what qualifications do you / your team have? Will my child have a named worker?
- How will you keep my child safe?
- Can I see your registration and Ofsted reports?
Some questions will help you get an idea if the setting will suit your child;
- Tell me what a typical day will be like, where will my child spend their time? How will I hear about my child’s day?
- Is their a fixed routine or can it be flexible for my child?
- What happens at mealtimes?
- How will you comfort my child if they are upset and how will you manage any challenging behaviour from them or others?
Pay attention to how you feel about the place and people – your instincts are really important.
Once you have chosen your setting and your child is settled there it is important to continue to ask yourself if it still suits your child and you still feel happy with what it offers. Places can change over time.
Childcare can be expensive. The government recognise how important access to high quality early years education is for all children. For this reason children can receive some free childcare.
Government funding is available to parents for approved childcare. What is available depends on the age of your child and your family circumstances;
- Some families can apply for 15 hours of child care for the term after they turn two. Find out more *here*.
- Some working families are entitled to 30 hours of free childcare the term after their child turns three. Find out more *here*.
- All families are entitled to 15 hours of childcare starting the term after they turn three . Find out more *here*.
Who Can Help?
You can contact the Healthy Child Programme by calling Just One Number on 0300 300 0123 or texting Parentline on 07520 631590. Our opening hours are 8am-6pm Monday-Friday (excluding bank holidays) and 9am-1pm on Saturdays.
If you are 11-19 you can text Chathealth on 07480 635060 for confidential advice from one of the Healthy Child Programme team.