Choosing the best childcare is important for you and your child and you need to feel confident about the type of childcare that you choose. The type of childcare that best suits you and your child will depend on the reasons you need childcare, the age of your child and your personal preference.
Day nurseries offer care for for children aged between 3 months and 5 years. They are open on weekdays, usually between 8:00am and 6:00pm but sometimes for longer than this. Care is often offered all year round except bank holidays and some may close for a week around Christmas.
Childminders are self employed and work from their own homes to provide childcare. The age ranges they offer care for will depend on their registration and the children they already care for. Most work from 8:00am until 6:00pm but they are usually flexible, offering care outside these times. Some childminders provide evening or weekend care and many pick up or drop off at other childcare providers and schools.
Nursery classes are usually attached to a primary school and provide the free early education funding for for 3 and 4 year olds, with some now taking 2 year olds. You may also be able to pay for extra hours if there are spaces available. Attendance at nursery classes does not guarantee your child a place at the school. Children can attend from the start of the term after their third birthday and they are open during term time only.
Pre-schools are often located in places such as community centres and church halls and are run by voluntary groups or committees. They often offer care for children aged 2 years to 5 years but some don't take children until they are 3 years old. Sessions are usually offered during term-time and have similar hours to the school day.
Usually based on a school site and offer activities and breakfast before the start of the school day, from 8:00 am until school starts.
These can be based on a school site or run by a private business or voluntary organisation. They offer activities for children once school has finished until around 6:00 pm. Some clubs will pick up from schools nearby if they are not already on a school site. They usually offer care for ages 5 to 11 years.
Holiday schemes are open during school holidays and offer activities and trips. They can be based on a school site or run by a private business or voluntary organisation. Care is usually offered to children aged between 5 and 11 years but some may take children over the age of 11.