At some point into your parenting journey there may come the time when you decide to send your child to a form of childcare. You may do this due to work commitments, to allow you self care time or to allow your child time with other children. This may happen straight after your maternity leave finishes or later on.
We were very fortunate to have the ability for my mum to look after Evan initially, but now the he is three he has qualified for free funding for childcare for 30 hours per week. With this opportunity being presented, it was important to me, that we found him the perfect setting so he could thrive, adjust having time away from family members and being in a setting that will help him develop the skills he will need in preparation for school the following year.
This however, presents a massive amount of considerations and pressures, to ensure that were you send your child is the perfect setting and that not only you, as the parent feel confident with them, but that your child also feels welcomed. When we started looking around there were many differing approaches when it came to caring for your child and here are the steps we took to find the right setting for us .
Create A List
Before rushing off and phoning to arrange visits at all available childcare settings, it is important to check some information first.
- Do they have availability to support taking your child on.
- Do their opening hours support your needs
- What days can they offer childcare.
View Multiple Settings
Before signing your child up to any setting it is extremely important to arrange and visit and meet the staff that could be in charge of the care of your child. There can be a lot to take in when visiting any childcare setting, so it can be worth taking someone else with you to support you and ensure all relevant questions are asked.
When visiting any nurseries, pre-schools or childminders, one of the best tips I can give is to have a list of questions that you want answers too. This will ensure that when you walk away not only have you gained a feeling around the setting but you have also gained all of the answers you are looking for. Second tip, is to take your child with you. Although it can be challenging taking a little one to a new place, especially one filled with a wide range of toys and interesting items, it can allow you to see how the staff interact with your child and how comfortable your child feels in this environment.
Here are a list of some of the key aspects that we used for our considerations:
- Their staff ratio. Although there are legal requirements for the number of adults to children, this can still significantly vary from one place to another, and the more adults to children the more dedicated attention you child will receive.
- What qualifications they hold.
- Will your child have an individual key worker.
- Do they provide meals, snacks, wipe, nappies etc.
- How the other children seemed. If the children seem happy, engaged and content this can be a very reassuring sign as to how your child will fit in.
- If it looks safe and clean. Of course all children make mess and this is to be expected but there is a difference between mess and dirt.
- What types of activities they do.
- They they communicate with you as the parent around your child is getting on and what they engage in day to day.
- How they interacted and engaged with your child.
Understand Costs And Hours
Like a lot of the considerations the hours and costs to send your child to any facility will vary greatly. Even with the child care funding and contributions, there may still be an amount that is expected to be paid monthly. Even when becoming eligible for the government funded 30 hours there is a wide range of cost expectations.
Some settings will require a certain amount of hours and days in order to be able to consider offering a spot for your child, and depending upon how they calculate the cost and distribution of hours and sessions you could still incur hundreds of pounds of cost each month. This is of course a factor to the majority of us, so it is worth understanding if sending your child there will be affordable.
Book Their Space
Now that you’ve checked all of the venues out, asked all of the questions and found one that seems perfect, you need to reserve your space. Childcare spaces tend to fill up quickly, especially ones that carry excellent reputations, so once you have found one that is the perfect fit, get your little ones name on the list and their spot reserved. It doesn’t matter if you are looking at a space a year in advance or immediately, reserving their space is vital to provide you peace of mind and to guarantee their future attendance.