By Liz Bayram, Professional Association for Childcare and Early Years
The thought of handing over your precious child to a relative stranger is likely to make you feel anxious. Yet for parents wanting to work or study, and you need childcare, that is effectively what you have to do. It sounds scary when you say it out loud, but it doesn’t have to be.
But time choosing the right childcare that works for you – and your child – is time well spent. You can then go to work or college safe in the knowledge your little one is getting the best start in life.
Finding the right childcare provider is the key. Sought-after childcare providers can have long waiting lists, so starting your search for childcare sooner rather than later is really important.
Going back to basics, there are broadly two different types of childcare. Home-based (domestic) childcare which includes registered childminders and nannies; and group-based (non-domestic) childcare which includes day nurseries, pre-schools and school nurseries.
The type of childcare you choose is really down to individual preference; budget; how many days childcare you need and your child’s age and needs. At first it can feel overwhelming, so it is worth drawing up a shortlist of providers – you can search online (searchchildcare.org.uk is a good start) and there are lots of other online directories. Location is key as you will be spending a lot of time going backwards and forwards.
Once you have your shortlist, make initial enquiries as to their availability and make sure they are able to accommodate the days and times you need, before you go and see them.
When you arrange an appointment at a setting, taking your little one with you can be a good idea so you can see how the childcarer interacts with your child.
You know you have found a high quality childcare setting when you see that carers and children have formed strong bonds, children are safe, have lots of stimulation from activities and play – and there are a lot of smiles!
One form of childcare that can be overlooked is childminding as they are far more than ‘glorified babysitters’. Registered childminders have to be registered with Ofsted, and deliver the same Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS) curriculum as nurseries and pre-schools but just offer early education from the comfort of their own home. There are lots of benefits of choosing a childminder to care for your child, including the personalised care your child will get as childminders only look after small groups of children. Indeed, 92% of childminders are now rated ‘good’ or ‘outstanding’ from Ofsted. Recent research has shown that childminders have a particularly positive impact on young children’s language and cognitive development.
The great news for hard working parents – including single parents – of 3-and 4-year olds is that come September you could be eligible for 30 hours of funded childcare a week, which means a huge saving to your monthly budgeting. Check out what you’re entitled to – and good luck with your childcare search !
Take a look here for further information to help you with choosing childcare.
Apply for 30-hour entitlement through the Government’s childcare service the term before you plan to start receiving it.
For more information about PACEY, including activity and home learning ideas, check out the PACEY website.