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childminder versus nursery?

(55 Posts)
noodlesmummy Tue 29-Jan-13 17:33:30

does anyone have any tips on childminder as opposed to nursery. first baby and due to go back to work in a few months when she is 1. i dont work locally or have any family near.....

OutragedFromLeeds Thu 31-Jan-13 02:38:50

Just giving my views, based on my experiences of working in childcare . There are bad childminders (and bad nannies), no question. I just think it's easier to tell which childminders are good/bad than it is to tell which nurseries are good/bad. I also think all things being equal an under 2 is better in a home environment. Just my opinion.

'the chances of your child being killed in a car accident are higher at cm' s'

This is true, also more chance of them drowning in the duck pond, being abducted in the supermarket or eaten by lions and I have seen people say that they prefer nursery because they know exactly where their child is for the entire time they are at work. For me, babies not being cooped up in one room outweighs this argument, but others are different.

Themobstersknife Thu 31-Jan-13 08:38:14

Outraged - how did Ofsted deal with your report regarding at the nursery which was truly awful? I assume they investigated?

Can I ask then - are CM ratios different to nurseries? My baby goes to a nursery where she is one of the few full timers, and therefore quite often gets one on one care, but at worst she is 1 in 3. Is this different for CMs? All the CMs I see have at least three charges at any one time?

I could give loads of examples of childminding I have seen which is far from ideal, but I wouldn't do that out of respect for people who use CMs. I don't understand why people don't have the same respect for people who use nurseries. Yes there will be bad ones. There will also be excellent ones. The generalisations on this thread are not very helpful.

HSMM Thu 31-Jan-13 09:27:46

Themobstersknife - CM ratios are different (ratios currently being changed, but I'll ignore that for now). 3 under 5s for CMs. Nurseries have this ratio for babies but are allowed more toddlers and even more at pre school.

You are right there are good and bad CMs and nurseries. The best way to find a good CM is to watch them at toddler groups, the park, the school run, etc, or to get a reference from someone else.

HSMM Thu 31-Jan-13 09:29:52

OutragedFromLeeds - I haven't got a risk assessment for being eaten by lions! Do I need one?

noodlesmummy Thu 31-Jan-13 09:30:18

Thanks for all the responses everyone! I visited a nursery and to be honest it didnt feel right but appreciate it was just one place. I wasnt keen on the quality of staff and food choices (lots of treats). Plus the place felt really depressing with a few visibly ill children. I am meeting a couple of childminders and a nanny next week but other than checking quals etc and obtaining references feel I will probably go on gut feeling.

MaryPoppinsBag Thu 31-Jan-13 09:45:44

Noodles - can anyone you know recommend a CM to you?
I find a lot of my work comes from recommendations from people who know me, not necessarily in a CM capacity but they've known me since I was a child or from school. Or they know me through DC's school and know what I'm like with my own children.

It's not a reference relating to my ability as a CM but it's a character reference.

galwaygirl Thu 31-Jan-13 10:06:25

noodles - I felt the same about the first nursery I saw and was upset afterwards as there isn't the option of a childminder here (city centre) but the next nursery we looked at we absolutely loved.
DD has been there since 13 months and is 19 months now, she loves going. They do lots of great activities I wouldn't/couldn't do at home, she has music classes on a Friday and she gets loads of benefit from it. So much so that we have kept her in there even though I'm not working.
When DH drops her off in the mornings she runs in the door and is so excited to see her little friends.
I really think it depends on the personality of the child - my DD hates being bored and sitting inside watching tv or playing with the same toys. Her nursery is great for having lots of things planned so she doesn't get bored. But she also just loves playing with her friends. I've seen her playing when I pick her up and it is just so cute.

Ultimately you need to pick whatever you feel most comfortable with though

Twinklestarstwinklestars Thu 31-Jan-13 10:50:03

School runs can also be a positive thing if not meaning they are strapped into a pushchair for ages.

I mind a now 3 year old who was terrified of nursery at 1 so came to me, mum couldn't even go down the road without her screaming and being hysterical. from doing the school run to our local school and getting used to the staff she started in September with absolutely no tears and mum couldn't believe it. When we go to school there's an adventure playground and toys so its a fun experience.

OutragedFromLeeds Thu 31-Jan-13 11:21:40

Themobster I didn't report to Ofsted. I absolutely should have done, but I was 17, no experience, no qualifications and tbh I had no idea about Ofsted and even if I had I probably would have been too scared as they would have known it was me. There were specific incidents where there was me and two other members of staff in the room, they were good friends and I was new it would have been obvious it was me.

The nursery is still up and running, still Ofsted rated good, I believe it's under new management. Don't know if it's still awful. I hope not. I was there a while back, only for 8 weeks, awful incidents were daily not one-off rarities.

'I don't understand why people don't have the same respect for people who use nurseries.'

This is a thread entitled childminder versus nursery. I never, ever share my experiences or offer my view on nurseries for babies unpropmted. If you've seen a general pattern of neglect amongst childminders then by all means share it here, or report to Ofsted.

thunksheadontable Thu 31-Jan-13 11:23:56

Yeah Outraged, but the chance of a car accident (which is probably one of the greatest threats any of our children face, regardless of where they spend their time) isn't quite like that of being eaten by lions now, is it? I mentioned it because one CM I went to meet with told me how she loved taking "the babies" to the seaside (an hour and a half away from here, so three hours in the car for the babies) once a week during Summer, and then in the next breath told me it had taken her eight times to pass her driving test. I couldn't see any reason for a year old to be in a car for three hours one day a week other than to give the CM a way of justifying strapping the child into a car for that length of time. Sounds like hell to me, either way.

I think instinct is a huge part of it but I would agree that if you want to go the CM route in your area, get out to playgroups and watch to see how CM's are interacting with the kids in their care. I did this and unfortunately didn't see an awful lot to recommend any of the ones with any availability - there were some amazing CM's also but they didn't have any spaces or were offering term time only. Many of the ones with availability were basically hardly interacting with the kids and more interested in nattering/gossiping than the kids in their care. I think this is sadly more likely than it used to be as the paperwork associated with childminding has driven a lot of very caring and talented people out of the job.

Given that, having childcare that was 51 weeks became a bigger priority as we really needed to be able to rely on ds being able to go if he was well. Obviously if he was sick we would have been off with him whether or not he was in a CM's or a nursery.

In general, as I now face this choice with ds2, I would say that any paid childcare isn't really ideal. A great nanny is the best, a great CM next best, a great nursery after that.. but it is rarely as straightforward that there is a raft of high quality childcare to choose from. We have dealt with the issue here by seriously reducing the time they have to be in paid childcare - I work a 2 day/3 day fortnight term time only and dh uses his holidays to work a nine day fortnight with parental leave for one annual holiday and Christmas so the children are in nursery only 2 days a week. We also stagger drop offs and pick ups, so I go to work stupidly early and dh comes home stupidly late to minimise time in nursery. We found that despite my wage being technically high, that no matter how we crunched the numbers or what we tried that the cost of two in childcare meant working just couldn't pay.. but we want a third so we are putting up with this so I can get maternity leave for a third and then I will go back to work that off for six months and leave.

It is a really complicated thing, childcare.. and your needs will change as your family grows and changes, or as work demands increase or decrease etc. I think everyone has to come up with their own individual solution and there will always be some compromise - you just have to choose what matches both your needs and your values personally.

OutragedFromLeeds Thu 31-Jan-13 11:36:39

thunk I was agreeing with you! You are absolutely 100% right that a child is more likely to be involved in a car accident while with a childminder than in a nursery. Completely agree. It just doesn't override the fact that they'll be out and about e.g. at the seaside, instead of stuck in one room all day long. For me, personally, I'd rather take the risk on a childminder with a clean driving license and properly fitted car seat than confine them to nursery. I'd love my kids to have a day at the seaside in the summer!

Looking at childminders at playgroup is a good method, though I will say also watch the children. I'm often to be found chatting at playgroup and not interacting with my charge (nanny, not childminder). I work a 45 hour week, and playgroup is an hour and a half. He is completely content and happy to play independently with his friends because he has my attention the rest of the time. Maybe don't judge the childminders if the kids are happy playing with friends/by themselves.

pebbles1234 Thu 31-Jan-13 11:41:50

I have used a nursery for my DS since returning to work when he was 14months. My main reason for this was personal experience, I went to a childminder from a very young age and had a horrible experience with her own child who bullied me, the CM never intervened and I spent years feeling miserable....that said I know many people whose children have had great experiences and are very happy.

For me there are a number of other advantages of nursery - the availibility across the year, the structured stimulation and activity planning means I feel like I know whats going on and can support it at home. My DS has also had the opportunity to try lots of different foods which means he is a great eater. The nursery was recommended to me by numerous people whose children had been very happy there.

I think its also massively dependent on the nursery.CM you choose - our nursery is expensive but has great ratios accross all groups, its in a village and the children are regularly taken out to the little supermarket, library, park (mine often sees his grandparents whilst out and about and waves happily!)

good luck!

Themobstersknife Thu 31-Jan-13 12:07:19

So outraged, have you seen a 'general pattern of neglect' from a large number of nurseries? Or one or two? I absolutely agree that people should be contributing to the debate, and many of your points are interesting and insightful, but I think the scaremongering with regards to very specific examples is less useful. But I suspect I am being defensive, as both my girls attended nursery, and all I ever see on here is blanket statements about how they are no good for babies.

Tanith Thu 31-Jan-13 12:23:19

I haven't heard of a child being killed in a car crash while with their childminder.
On the other hand, I have heard of a child who choked to death in the Wendy House at nursery: there's quite a fuss still going on about it.

So maybe those statistics aren't quite accurate?

Tanith Thu 31-Jan-13 12:34:35

I agree with HSMM: you really need ti visit as many settings as you can and get a feel for what you want.

Make a list of all the points that are important to you - food, outings, numbers etc. - and make sure you ask about these things.
Ensure you read Ofsted reports and discuss any points that were highlighted.
Get opinions from parents already using the service and always, always visit any setting you are seriously considering more than once.

OutragedFromLeeds Thu 31-Jan-13 12:57:30

Themob I was not happy with baby provision in any of the nurseries I worked in. Some were not good enough throughout, some had good provision for the older ones, not one of them would I have wanted my baby to go to. There was only one where what I saw went beyond 'not very good' to awful (I'm talking kids left in wee-soaked clothes all day, 18 month old whacked on the head with a book because he wouldn't sit still during singing etc).

I will say that even at the awful nursery the staff had their favourites, so there were children who had lots of cuddles and attention, just a shame if your DC wasn't one of them.

As you say, these are specific examples, not true for all nurseries. What put me off ever using a nursery, more than what I actually saw, was the fact that clearly the parents and Ofsted had no idea. How do you know which ones are the good ones and which ones aren't? With a baby it's very hard to tell, they weren't coming in screaming in the morning, but no way were those kids as happy as they could have been in better care.

It is my opinion, that it is easier to tell the good nannies/childminders from the bad.

botandhothered Thu 31-Jan-13 14:13:28

Have to agree with everything Outraged has said.I have more than 20 yrs experience working in Early years. Would never send my own child to a day nursery. I have worked or trained in at least 7 Day nurseries.
I would be looking for a childminder with a level 3 college based qualification.
I would prefer a qualified experienced nanny, although appreciate that is expensive.
I am quite shocked that some parents don't want their child to form an attatchment to their carers, and use nurseries for that reason.

ReetPetit Thu 31-Jan-13 14:26:43

i agree, i am a qualified nursery nurse now working as a childminder. I would never put a non verbal child into a nursery setting. I have seen some shocking practice in the nurseries I have worked in.
Nurseries are not suitable for very young children. Anyone who knows anything about child development would know how important it is for a young child's emotional development to attach to one carer. Anyone who doesn't want their child to attach to someone is showing something about their own guilt at returning to work and their own insecurities. A childcarer will never replace you but it is vitally important that young children get enough, and good quality attention. In day nuseries this is just not possible.
Most staff are young and underpaid, their is a high staff turnover, not enough space - and I agree, it is not healthy to have a young child in one room all day. Children need to be out and about. With a childminder, the day is much more normal, such as it would be if at home with a parent.

minderjinx Thu 31-Jan-13 15:00:06

In defence of nurseries, muy own eldest son was lovingly cared for in his nursery from seven months. He never slept during the day, and far from finding this an inconvenience, I could drop in any time during the day and find him getting loads of attention and cuddles. I had a travelling job and could finish just about any time of day and they simply gave me a key to let myself in whenever I got back (not sure that would be allowed now, but they did know I was CRB'd!). When the rest of the children were sleeping I would find the girls chatting together and with him - 6 adults to one baby - he absolutely adored it. By the time my second child was born, that nursery was closing and I never found another I was as happy with, added to which my second child was a completely different character and just did not take to group care. I have heard many parents say much the same, that nurseries do not suit all children, and many children come to me having failed to settle or having had various negative experiences at nurseries, which is why I think there needs to be another alternative.

thunksheadontable Thu 31-Jan-13 15:16:36

Tanith, that doesn't seem a very objective statement! Road traffic accidents are a leading cause of death in the under 5's all over the world, much higher than things we fear much more like cot death or even choking. If a child did die in a tragic car accident and there was no dangerous driving/illicit substances involved we would all assume it was just one of those terribly tragic and awful things that happens in life. Sad to say, choking is likely to be similar. Children (and indeed adults) can choke on anything.

At my first aid training (NHS), I remember being haunted by a story of a woman who choked on her lunch in the staff room at work, she went out to get a glass of water and was found dead. We were also told that there are literally seconds to clear an obstruction and many obstructions, sadly, won't be cleared even by the most skilful of first aiders in time sad. I think there was a child who died of choking in a primary school this year, wasn't there? It is awful but tragically one of those things that no amount of supervision is guaranteed to prevent yet thankfully generally pretty improbable. I sometimes think we are all encouraged to be a bit OCD about these things these days. In OCD treatment, you are told that anxiety is maintained by an overestimation of the probability of a risk where the thing you fear is really really awful. How many of us do that these days?

I would love a level 3 qualified childminder - I can't get one here, I can't get one within five miles, I can't get any with year round hours. So it is all a bit academic. I have no desire to return to work at all, but this is the way it has to be right now. I don't think any young child should have to be forming an attachment with someone who is paid to care for them, their attachments should be with people who love them and will be in their life in the long-term but that's not feasible for everyone at the moment unfortunately.

minderjinx Thu 31-Jan-13 15:55:38

I had a distant relative who slipped and banged her head on a kerb, dying of internal bleeding at 21. I am disproportionately fearful of similar accidents. But accidents in nurseries and horror stories about childcare generally are not only frightening but very newsworthy, and the media stoke up parents' fears and guilt. It is sad when the need to work is as the above poster says a reality for most parents and it is much better for the child if the parents are happy and confident in their childcare choices.

OutragedFromLeeds Thu 31-Jan-13 16:23:09

In the spirit of weird childcare deaths, I work not far from Chiswick, last year a baby was killed when a lampost blew down and crushed his pram as his nanny pushed him along. Wouldn't have happened in a nursery......

but that's not really the point. I didn't mean to derail the OP's thread. My point was simply that when there are several people responsible for one child, the ball can be dropped with regards to who is watching/taking of them at each time. I think the child who was strangled in the wendy house was a recent, high profile example of this so I used it to illustrate my point.

doughnut44 Thu 31-Jan-13 19:50:27

I am a childminder who hasn't got a level 3 qualification, however I am (and not just my words) a FANTASTIC childminder. I honestly do not think you need these qualifications to childmind. The things that you learn are common sense anyway. I don't do the things I do with the children to impress Ofsted or the parents, I do these things because they are what I did with my children when they were little to aid their development and give them a good time.
My own daughter went to a nursery because at that time we were told that that was the best thing for children, it helped them to get ready for school, socialize and so on. My daughter is now 16, one of her nursery teachers came round to ask me if I could childmind for her. I thought she was lovely and caring towards my daughter but my daughter told me she was awful - always shouting and being mean. Really had the wool pulled over my eyes. I have never shouted at one of my mindees but there again - I am not a young girl who has done my level 3 - I am a mother of 3 children who knows what I know from being with mine and other children, reading a lot about looking after children and making my own mind up what is good and what isn't.
To me nurseries do have the facilities and resources to teach children about the world in the confines of 4 walls - a good childminder will teach the children about the world by living in it.
Children are institutionalized enough once they reach school age so why start them sooner.
As for childminders not interacting with children at playgroups - playgroups are an opportunity for children to have free play and mix with their peers. A childminder will interact with the children at home. Playing without parents/ minders at playgroups helps to develop confidence

Sirzy Thu 31-Jan-13 20:02:52

I think its a very personal thing which is best for the child. I picked a childminder over a nursery for DS for a number of reasons, the main being..

- there being more than one carer - adults naturally get fed up/annoyed/need time out, personally I think when it comes to childcare having someone else to help, or to allow you 5 minutes out is a positive. I know its a small thing and childminders will of course carry on through it but still it was important for me.

- Not having to find cover (or have the child with a carer who is unknown/lesser known) for holidays/illness/family problems etc

- The wide range of activities they offer, helped by the fact that I use a fantastic nursery who do plenty of trips out and have wonderful facilities.

- The main thing for me was the ability to deal with my sons asthma, the childminders I saw didn't seem as confident and the fact they work alone would make it hard for them to deal with an attack whilst also looking after other children whereas in the nursery the staff are all trained to deal with him.

That said there are fantastic nursery and childminders and crap nurseries and childminders the key is finding the right one. I have seen some truly horrendous childminders out and about and would never leave my child with them but I know others who are great.

SizzleSazz Thu 31-Jan-13 20:05:40

Re finding good CM - I rang a few on the list and one (who was actually my favourite 'paper' choice) was full. She said she would only leave her own DC with one of the other CM's on the list. This for me was a strong recommendation.

When we went to see her she actively encouraged us to speak to other current parents to ask their views. Everything was open and transparent.

She also happened to be the local 'CM network co-ordinator' but if she hadn't I might have asked if there were a local equivalent and speak to them to ask which local CM might be a good fit for you and your DC's priority requirements.

Where abouts in the country are you? Someone on here might have a recommendation?

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