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DS starting school - how do I chose a childminder?

(18 Posts)
Bozza Thu 20-Jan-05 13:11:51

DS will be going to the local school (two minutes walk) in September. I work three full days and ATM DS goes to day nursery on those days. He will be going straight into reception so that will be 9 until 3.30 I suppose. So I will need a CM for an hour before school and two hours after school, plus holidays. I have contacted the CIS and got a list of childminders in my area stating which drop off/collect from my school and how many vacancies (although not by age group).

What do I do now? One of the CMs is a neighbour although I don't know her because we live in the cross part of the 't' in our cul-de-sac and she is at the other side and on a bit. Is this good or bad? One of the CMs looks after a little boy who used to go to a toddler group with DS (and I socialised with his mum). Is that good? They might not get on and be stuck together.

I'm more uptight about this than I was about sending baby DD to the nursery.

galaxy Thu 20-Jan-05 13:17:27

The only way you'll know who to choose is to meet them! Give them a call and see if they can do it first. You'll get a feel for them over the phone and then arrange to go and visit them when they have mindees. I'd check how many children are there before and after school too.

elliott Thu 20-Jan-05 13:20:36

You're in a very similar position to me bozza - ds1 could go to school nursery in Sept, but I would need cover for pick up and drop off and holidays.
I did what you hve done, got a list of all the CMs in the area. I also phoned anyone I know who uses a CM to see if they had any recommendations. Then I just ploughed through the list phoning them up. Unfortunately I didn't get as far as having to make any CHOICES, because none of them had any vacancies....

One thing I did find though was that they don't really seem to plan ahead - so although I was prepared to change to a CM now, or alternatively wait until sept, they weren't really in a position to tell me whether or not they would have places in sept. Tricky really since I don't feel I can commit to making the change unless I know there is someone who can take him!

I think the only way you can choose is just by talking to them and asking sensible questions. Quite understand where you're coming from though. I only hope you have better luck than me - I haven't a clue what I'm going to do now!

bundle Thu 20-Jan-05 13:22:34

dd1 just started in reception and she goes to afterschool club rather than a childminder.

Bozza Thu 20-Jan-05 13:31:12

elliott DS could have gone to the school nursery from january but I left him where he was. He is friendly with one or two children that will be in his class so I am ensuring we keep up contact. And it is easier/cheaper for us to keep him at nursery because we get the nursery grant to cover 12.5 hours of his time there in termtime.

Mmmm beginning to wonder about how accurate the list of vacancies from council was. I think I will phone some and maybe try to visit during half term. Don't like this not planning ahead thing. Think the neighbour might be new to CM because she had a lot of vacancies and is not known on the kiddy circuit. My friend is a SAHM who goes to every kiddy activity in the area plus her DS is one of my DS's friends who will be in his class and she keeps me clued up. There is one CM that she has warned me off, but I've already come across her at a toddler group and formed the same opinion.

If I go to visit some CMs should I take DS? Also what about DD (8 months)?

Bozza Thu 20-Jan-05 13:34:43

No afterschool club unfortunately.

bundle Thu 20-Jan-05 13:36:54

bozza, i have been thinking about a cm cos dd at the moment isn't that keen on afterschool thingy but feel a bit like you do about it, are you keeping dd at nursery?

elliott Thu 20-Jan-05 13:37:33

sounds like the neighbour might be a good option bozza, if you find you like her.
My plan re visiting had been to NOT take ds1 initially - I find I can't really concentrate on anything important if I am trying to look after him, plus I didn't want to have to explain what we were doing (if I didn't like her). Then if I was interested I would have taken him along, obviously, to see how they got on.

But I am unsettled by not being able to plan ahead too.
Our school does have after school and holiday club but I feel ds1 is very little to be left to those mercies - especially for the long summer holiday. How does your dd find it bundle?

Bozza Thu 20-Jan-05 14:04:33

Plan on leaving DD at nursery but obviously would hope that in 4 years time she would be joining DS at the CM. Elliott you make good points about the visits to child minders.

This is my current plan:
show list to savvy friend
ring round CMs re vacancies
select a couple for initial visits from me
decide on preference and go again with DS

catgirl Thu 20-Jan-05 14:29:37

just have one thought re planning ahead and speaking to a childminder - ask if they will accept a retainer to hold a place for you - I had to pay 50% of cost per week until we took up a full time place (but you could start by offering less!) Might be an incentive for them to work something out? Just a thought.

bundle Thu 20-Jan-05 14:31:58

elliott, she's finding it a bit tough, but i have no other option and it's a nice relaxed atmosphere there, they can just chill out and munch on toast and they do get to play outside a bit too. i'm finding it much harder than the whole nursery experience too probably because dd1 can voice her feelings more effectively. dd2 is absolutely fine at her nursery, v confident and lots of good chums there. the pick up from 2 places is tough though, a real race

ayla99 Thu 20-Jan-05 14:36:11

Hi there - the reason a CM can't tell you what vacancies they will have next September is because they can't predict what kind of enquiries they will get between now and then (and which of them they might decide to accept) nor can they know which of their current families might change jobs/take maternity leave or for any other reason give notice.

However, you can certainly book a CM now for a September start, but you will usually need to pay a retainer fee (a weekly or monthly fee to hold your place open).

Info on Retainer Fees

More Info for Parents

NCMA (National Childminding Association)do an advice booklet for parents - Call 0800 169 4486 or go to

Frieda Thu 20-Jan-05 14:45:10

It might be worth giving the school secretary a ring to see if she can give you a couple of numbers of childminders already doing school pick-ups from that school. It might give you a bit more choice and, your ds would have the opportunity to be with other kids around his age, which might be nice for him. Or ask other mums of school-age children if you know any round about for a recommendation.

elliott Thu 20-Jan-05 14:49:48

ayla I can understand why they can't be sure what their situation will be in Sept. I did find it a little frustrating though that many were a bit nonplussed when I asked if they could take my number and give me a ring if any vacancies arose!
I will have to try again nearer the time, I guess.

Bundle its tough isn't it. We could move ds2 to a nursery closer to school so could manage both pick ups but I do feel bad at the prospect of having to rely on the afterschool club. Well its actually more the holidays I worry about - what will you do in the summer? He just seems so little to be stuck all that time in school

ayla99 Thu 20-Jan-05 14:56:04

That sounds a reasonable request to me! Many cms operate waiting lists when they are full.

galaxy Thu 20-Jan-05 14:57:10

FOr the holidays, you may be able to find a cm who has a holiday vacancy.

Bozza Thu 20-Jan-05 16:06:31

Don't think I could afford to pay nursery fees for two plus 50% childminder's fees between now and September. I think I will have to take a deep breath and start on the process.

Bundle part of the attraction about the CM who is a neighbour is to ease the pick up/drop off situation.

bundle Thu 20-Jan-05 16:44:11

gawd knows elliott. she can go back to her nursery for odd days till she's 5 so i can do that (she has a summer birthday so there won't be many days before hols when she's over 5 iykwim)

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