In the new year, I was fortunate enough to start a new job that I love. With the new job came some pretty big moves for our family too, one of those being Olivia moving from a childminder to a nursery.
Olivia started going to a childminder in September 2017, when I started studying for my BPTC in London. I was commuting 4 days a week from Aldershot, while my husband was working through the week too. She was only 16 months old then, and this was her first formal childcare setting as I’d had a year of maternity leave while I finished my undergrad, and then the summer waiting for my BPTC to start.
She started off with a maximum of 28 hours a week, though because of Jamie’s job it was flexible which worked well with our childminder.
Come April 2018, she had a lot more hours in tandem with Jamie’s deployment, and in June it went to full time with the childminder when I started working in Reading.
Olivia was really settled with her childminder and had lots of friends. The childminder worked in a group with 2 other childminders, so although the setting Olivia went to was small, with only 3 children, she was constantly with a group of more children and engaged in lots of activities.
So what are the Pros and Cons of using a childminder as opposed to a nursery?
+ The approach is really personal. Your childminder only has a handful of children compared to those at a nursery, and they get to know you and your child really well.
+ It’s a lot more flexible. If you have a part-time space, you may be able to add extra hours on as and when they’re needed.
+ Childminders usually have a wider age range of children in their setting.
+ They will normally take your children to local baby/toddler groups to socialise with other children and widen their own friendship groups and experiences.
+ Depending on the spaces they have, you can end up with your child having one-to-one time with the childminder, although this might not be the case everywhere.
+ The costs are usually much lower than nurseries!
+ Must be Ofsted registered.
– The one-to-one time can be a bit boring for your child, but they wouldn’t normally be on their own in the setting if the childminder’s spaces are full.
– You are at the mercy of when your childminder wants time off! If you work throughout half term, you may have to find cover, but hopefully you would be informed of their planned holidays well in advance.
– Your childminder might not accept government funding schemes such as tax-free childcare or childcare vouchers – it’s best to check! I was fortunate that mine did.
+ The setting really prepares children for school as it is much more formal than a childminder.
+ There are a lot more children! Your child can learn to socialise with a class size full of kids, preparing them well for school class sizes.
+ You have the option of either term time or full time places.
+ There is no risk of your childminder being sick and having no back up childcare, as nurseries are staffed by a group of people rather than just one.
+ Your child is usually assigned a key worker, who they will have one-to-one or small group time with during the days that they are at nursery.
+ The children can get involved in school-like activities, such as sponsorships and show and tell.
+ Nurseries sometimes offer hot cooked meals on site, a much better option than a packed lunch!
+ Nurseries should always accept government funding schemes.
+ Must be Ofsted registered.
– Depending on the nursery, they may charge more or not accept younger children (under 1 year or under 6 months), so if you want to go back to work sooner rather than later, they might not be the best option.
– Nurseries do tend to be more expensive to cover staff and building costs.
I honestly can’t praise the childcare Olivia had from her childminder enough, and was really sad to have to move her, but with the new job I began working in a new location, down in Portsmouth, and on full-time hours it would have been impossible to try and keep her in the same place because drop offs and pick ups simply weren’t feasible. Plus with Jamie on ceremonial duties and due to go away again later this year, there were no guarantees that even he would have been around to collect her!
I was of course filled with anxiety and trepidation on her behalf at the thought of her moving to a nursery, worrying whether she would make new friends or not… But my little munchkin settled so well, which is a massive relief!
So, what are my tips for coping with this move, as a parent, and for helping your child prepare for it?
- Firstly, and most importantly, go and see the new setting before your child goes for their first day. It’s a good opportunity for you to see the layout, what their routine will be, and who will be working with them.
- Ask questions – as many as possible, so that you feel 100% comfortable with the setting.
- Check the Ofsted report. Even if somewhere has a grade of Outstanding, it’s important to look at when the grade was given, as Ofsted inspections can be once every 3 years. The reports tell you a lot about the setting regardless of the grade, including parents’ comments.
- Take advantage of “settling-in sessions” to ease your little one into the new setting.
- And finally, try to prepare your child for the change by talking about it. This can be difficult if your child is still quite young, but I spoke to Olivia for about a month about going to a new playgroup and seeing lots of little boys and girls, and making new friends.
Have you made a similar change with your child? Has anything else helped you to make the transition?