There are many different types of childcare options available and choosing the one that works best for you and your child is important. From day nursery to an au pair, it can be difficult to know what will be best for you. All families are different and have different needs, so what works for someone else may not work for you. Different cultures and countries approach childcare differently so don’t feel like you have to follow the usual path if it isn’t going to work for you. Take the time to explore what is available and think about what it is you are looking to gain from childcare.
Here we will outline the choices available to help you decide which one is best for you.
Here in the UK, we have many different childcare opportunities that can suit any lifestyle, so it’s simply a case of narrowing down what’s out there and deciding which one you want to pursue.
Day nurseries are ideal for working parents, usually running from 7:30 am to 6 pm and taking children from 6 weeks to compulsory school age. They will be able to offer full or part-time places so you can fit the childcare around your job. Day nurseries have a team of experienced caregivers to help your child grow and develop. There will usually be different rooms for different age groups such as for under 2-year-olds, 2-3-year-olds and 3-5-year-olds. For under 2-year-olds there will be one caregiver to every three children so you can feel assured your child will get quality care and attention, while also being able to socialise with other children in the first few years of their development. Day nurseries typically only operate Monday to Friday from September to June.
At least 50 percent of staff need to have a childcare qualification
Your child can form bonds and friendships with other children
Nurseries are reliable as they have plenty of staff to cover any absences
Some can offer school pick-ups and out of school care
Funded places may be available to help you financially
Playgroup is run for up to four hours a day, five days a week, providing children with pre-school education. Parents are not normally present during these classes and allow children to get used to the educational system in a fun and welcoming environment. A playgroup is normally locally run and provides a safe environment to encourage children to learn through a broad play-based curriculum. Playgroup is not compulsory so you need to apply for a place for your child. Some playgroups offer funded places for children in their immediate pre-school year but others charge, so check with the playgroup about costs.
Pre-school places are often available in nursery schools, nursery classes at primary schools and private and voluntary playgroups and nurseries that are a part of the Expansion Programme. The Expansion Programme’s objective is to provide one year of free pre-school education to every child.
Children can play and learn with others and form friendships
Playgroup allows parents to be involved in their child’s early education
You can meet and get to know parents in your area
Your child’s place may be free if they are in their pre-school year
A childminding is childcare provided for multiple children in the childminder’s own home. The children in the childminders’ care are usually from different homes and can also include the childminders’ own children. This is a great option if you want your child to experience more personal care and a ‘home away from home’. To be a childminder, they must be registered with Ofsted and complete a first-aid course and a local authority-approved training course. Childminders will be able to care for your child five days a week, usually around 7:30 am to 6 pm, so they work long hours in order to accommodate working parents.
They will be more flexible to fit with your requirements
You get to know the person caring for your child
There’s more continuity for your child
You can find a childminder that shares your values – ask them about their approach to routines and discipline and how they will reward and discourage
They offer a home setting that is more comforting to your child and plans can be changed if your child isn’t up for certain things.
Nannies are experienced and qualified child carers trained to care for children from birth to 7 years. They work in your home and look after one, or multiple of your children, on either a live-in or live-out basis. Nannies are usually the most expensive childcare option as they work in partnership with the family to provide nurturing and personal care to only your child or children. The nannies duties extend to doing the children’s laundry, preparing meals and maintaining the cleanliness of equipment, toys and rooms used by the children. Nannies will also drop off and collect children from school and day nursery and take children to activities such as swimming or the library.
The child can stay at home and build a routine
They receive one-on-one care and attention
They’re exposed to fewer germs and sickness
It’s convenient and fits around your family
Nannies can complete extra work such as cleaning and tidying
An Au Pair is a cultural exchange that allows a single person between the age of 17 and 27 to come to the UK to live as part of an English family to learn the language and care for children. An Au Pair works between 25-30 hours a week and rather than receiving a wage, they are considered a member of the family and receive pocket money, around £80 a week, as well as full house and board. The duties of an Au Pair include caring for children, cleaning, washing up, cooking and evening babysitting. Au Pairs are not trained nannies and are not expected to take full responsibility for the children.
Allows you more flexibility and you can assign them particular jobs at any time of the day
Your children will be able to experience another culture
Your children could become bilingual by hiring someone that speaks another language
An Au Pair completes a variety of tasks instead of only childcare
The most affordable childcare option
Your child’s age- Depending on how old your child is you may feel some options are better than others. If your child is under one, you may feel a nursery school daycare is the best option as they will be able to learn and grow in the same environment. However, if your child is in their pre-school year, a playgroup may be the most appropriate choice.
How much childcare you need- If you work full time, it won’t be much use to send your child to a playgroup or hire an Au Pair because those childcare options won’t cover full-time hours. A nursery daycare or a nanny would be a better option.
Your budget- If you don’t have a lot of money to spend on a private nanny, more affordable options will be better suited to you such as childminders or a nursery school. Think about how economical it will be to work full time, but also pay for full-time childcare, and consider what will be the most beneficial.
The type of care your child needs- If you feel that your child needs more attention and personal care to aid their development, a childminder is able to provide care that is specific to your child and you will be able to pick a caregiver that fits your child’s needs. On the other hand, if you think your child will benefit more from being in a highly stimulating environment, a nursery school or playgroup will be able to offer a social atmosphere for your child to create bonds and friendships with lots of other children.
Little Acorns Day Nursery offers daycare in Hedge End and Eastleigh, providing a holistic, warm and welcoming environment that caters to every child’s needs. Whether you’re looking for nursery daycare for babies, toddlers or preschool-aged children, we ensure each child’s emotional, educational and developmental needs are met. We also hold ‘outstanding’ and ‘good’ ratings by Ofsted so you can be sure your child will be in the right place. Visit our website to learn more about our services.