Deciding what direction to take in terms of childcare can be extremely difficult, especially if you are working as well as bringing up a child. There are several options available including taking your child to a nursery, play group, pre-school or childminders. At such a young age it is also a good idea to make sure your child is undertaking good oral hygiene routines, combining toothpaste and mouthwash, to ward off future problems with teeth, an important education in itself.
Nurseries are often small, family-run organisations who care for children from as young as 6 weeks up to 5 years. Nurseries often open before most people start work and close after the working day usually ends; this ensures parents are able to drop their children off as well as collecting them later in the day. Most nurseries provide three meals a day as well as snacks and drinks throughout the day. Nursery education is an ideal way for your child to make friends as well as learn new skills and have lots of fun. Activities are designed not only to be enjoyable but also to educate and encourage creativity and independent thought. The vast majority of nursery staff have formal qualifications and paediatric first aid certificates and all have been checked by the Criminal Records Bureau (CRB). Nursery education can be expensive, especially if your child attends on a full-time basis, however the Government does offer financial support to help with these payments; details of this can be found the DirectGov website.
Play groups are often based in the local community and are open during school hours in term time. Play groups often take children from the age of 2 until they are ready to go to school at 4 or 5. Going to a local play group is often a chance for children to get to know the children they will be going to school with as well as being able to take part in a number of varied activities. It is also a chance for parents to get to know each other.
Pre-school education is geared towards preparing children for school. Many nurseries and schools have pre-school facilities and there are some independent pre-school groups. Pre-school education enables children to start learning skills such as counting, writing and drawing, as well as teaching children additional skills and habits such as how to sit quietly and eat nicely. Pre-school education is designed to make going to school less of a daunting experience and can be extremely beneficial in helping children adapt to the routine of school. Children can also get to know the other children they will be going to school with and can form friendships which will make going to school a more exciting prospect.
If you want your child to have one to one attention then a childminder is probably the best option. As a parent you will be able to make suggestions with regard to the kind of activities you want to child to take part in or the kind of meals you want them to eat for example. Children who are looked after childminders are often able to go on more outings than those in pre-school or nursery education, which can be highly advantageous. If your childminder is in a network then they can organise meeting up with other childminders; this can encourage social skills and help your child to make friends.