There's a lot of talk right now about the cost of childcare in the UK. Leaving your baby or child in someone else's care is a HUGE decision whether you're returning to work or looking to start early years care, there are a few options.
Choosing between a nursery and a childminder for your child's care is a personal decision that depends on your individual circumstances and priorities. Both options have their own pros and cons, and what is right for one family may not be right for another. Plus there's £££ to consider too right?
We've always had a split of nursery and childminder for a few reasons. Here are a few things to consider when deciding between a nursery and a childminder:
Cost: Nurseries may be more expensive than childminders, as they often have higher overhead costs and may offer more structured programs and activities. Our nursery is significantly dearer than our childminder which definitely is a factor when working out how to split the kid's time. Childminders may offer a more personalised and flexible service at a lower cost so ask around and see what's available to you and how much it's likely to cost. Don't forget to check out whether you do qualify for help from the government too as many people do.
Environment: Nurseries may offer a more structured and educational environment, with a range of activities and programs designed for children of different ages. Childminders may offer a more homely and personalised environment, with a smaller group of children and a more individualised approach to care. Both our nursery and childminder follow the same 'curriculum' and are on the same page which is great. Our childminder's house is definitely a home-from-home for my two and one thing that I love about the childminder's is that the kids mix with children of all ages, not just their own age which helps with their confidence when they're with older kids and also their kindness when they're with younger ones. They are also able to do more days out and trips as the group is much smaller so the children can benefit from learning in different or outdoor environments. What's great about nursery on the flip side is that it's more of an introduction of what school/pre-school will be like from the building point of view to the number of children in the class so when they do turn up on their first day of Reception it may not be as overwhelming.
Flexibility: Childminders may offer more flexibility in terms of hours and scheduling, as they often work in a home setting and may be able to accommodate different schedules. This is true of our lovely childminder as they've been able to help out in emergencies and accommodate swapping days etc sometimes when needed. Nurseries on the other hand may have more structured hours and may not be able to accommodate last-minute changes in care. This again is great practice for 'big school' for the grown ups as well as the kids.
Quality of care: Both nurseries and childminders can offer high-quality care for children, but it's important to research and compare different options to ensure that you are choosing the best option for your child. Look for reputable providers with good references and a track record of providing high-quality care. Ask friends with children of a similar age for their recommendations and experiences. Our childminder uses a contact book to keep us up to date on what they've been up to, activities and progress as well as informal 'catch ups' when we drop them off and pick them up whereas the nursery has an app which is kept up to date with details of what they've had to eat, sleeps taken, activities of that day and cute pics that can brighten your day when you don't expect them so don't forget to ask your childcare provider how they communicate and share info with you as that may play a role.
Ultimately, the decision between a nursery and a childminder will depend on your individual circumstances and priorities and a lot of the time it's about going with your gut.