Choosing a childcare setting for your child can be overwhelming. How do you decide between a pre-school or nursery? Here’s a little more information about each type of setting to help you make that decision.
These tend to be only open during term time and often only accept children over the age of 2. They can however be easier to combine with other care (such as childminders) if your working hours are longer than their opening or session times. You will also need to find something different for during the school holidays which can be disruptive for your child.
Nurseries tend to be open around 50 weeks of the year (and sometimes more). They can usually offer full or part time places but you would often need to arrange your hours a term in advance – assuming there is space at all for when you need. Nurseries can be expensive, and they probably will not help with taking and collecting older children from school.
Both of these options would have staff cover if someone is off sick – which you don’t get from a nanny or Au Pair.
Nannies are usually qualified individuals looking after your children in your home. If they are Ofsted registered, you can even claim Child Tax Credit to help pay for these which can bring the cost down – but they are often the most expensive choice. A nanny will become part of the family, and can live in or out of the house (and this would be reflected in their salary). Just remember that you need to pay tax and NI for your nanny as they are employed by you and not self-employed so remember this when doing your sums. Nannies will often have a circle of other nanny friends, so just because your child or children aren’t full time around other children, they will still have excellent opportunities to socialise and develop.
Au Pairs are a controversial choice. Allowing an international student to live in your home and provide ad hoc childcare when they aren’t necessarily qualified can be seen as risky. Saying this, this arrangement does work very well for many families. Au Pairs aren’t see as a worker or employee and don’t receive a salary as such – rather “pocket” or “spending” money. They should be provided with a room of their own in the house and meals. In return they can help around the house (with childcare or housework) for around 30 hours a week. It can be a very cost effective option, however it is best to find an Au Pair through an agency to ensure appropriate checks take place.