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Nursery vs childminder - anyone feel like talking me through options please?!

(12 Posts)
SkivingViking Fri 28-Aug-09 11:04:43

We're moving from Scandinavia to London in about a month's time. I'm trying to work out the childcare system in the UK, but now my head is spinning and I am confusing myself. (Doesn't take much wink )

I have a 3 year old and a 1 1/2 year old. They have both been in nursery here since they were about a year old each (they go to the same nursery). They love their nursery here (am actually feeling a bit guilty about taking them away )

I have been ringing around and looking online at various nurseries in London. Seems like prices vary quite a bit (here it is all the same price regardless of whether your child goes to nursery or has a childminder, how often they go etc) and quite a few places don't take under 2's.

I would like to keep the children together, especially as we are moving country and think that at least they will have each other if they go to the same place and just wondered what people's experiences etc are? Would it be easier / better to find a childminder? Is it normal for children over 2 to go to a childminder if we decide that is the best option (here almost no children over 2 1/2 go to a childminder)? What do most people do, or is it more of an even split?


bigstripeytiger Fri 28-Aug-09 12:01:36

I think its personal preference whether you send your children to nursery or a childminder.

Almost all the children that I know of who are in childcare use a nursery, though I do know of a couple of children who went to a childminder when they were younger.

I think that generally childminders are slightly cheaper than nurseries.

Depending on where you are in Scandinavia you may find childcare prices very expensive. I'm aware that some areas have subsidised childcare which makes the UK sound very expensive.

I personally prefer nursery, especially for older childre, for the social aspects.
I also prefer the greater reliability of a nursery (in that if one staff member is off sick you still have childcare).

SkivingViking Fri 28-Aug-09 12:19:09

Thanks for your reply!

(I also copied and pasted this thread into the 'Childminders' section in case you see it twice!)

Yes, had been warned about the childcare prices in the UK, and we have budgeted accordingly! (I pay £400 a month for full time here for both the children {shock} - I know I have been spoilt with the fab childcare here though). This is just a 1 year move while I am studying.

I mentioned on the other thread that I only have experience of my 2 being in nursery and haven't used a childminder before. I suppose I was thinking along the lines of it being a top priority (along with a good atmosphere etc of course!) that my 2 are together, or at least in the same building / place, even if in different rooms. Not least because it makes dropping off more practical, but also because this is an international move for them, there will be so many changes, differences etc and at least if they have each other than that is one consistency.

The nurseries I have spoken to so far, either don't have a place for 18 month-old ds, or he'd need to go on a waiting list for a little while. Although I have yet to speak to a few more (and one is going to ring me back later).

I suppose I was wondering if it would be easier to keep them together if I found a childminder instead?

allthatglisters Fri 28-Aug-09 17:20:51

Look at childminders too as they have some advantages, one of the main ones is becoming very much part of the local community, usually with the daily school drop off/pick up routine, visits to childminder groups, getting to know other mindees, the childminder's family, and other childminders' mindees etc.

Childminders can be more flexible about food, sleep etc to fit in with the children. The childminder can give you advice about any playgroup sessions (free for 3 year olds)available if you want this. Many childminders work together to provide sickness cover etc. Nurseries tend to be more rigid in their 'settling in' than CMs who can work with you to minimise any problems.

Childminders provide observations and planning under the Early Years Foundation Stage - often in more detail than nurseries as they get to know the children very well.

If you know where you're moving to, you should be able to acces the Childcare Information Service for that area which may have a list of CMs who you can initially e-mail - you may want to ask for a description of the premises, the daily routine, numbers of children, toys and equipment, crafts, and visits (if they have places).

I am a CM so I may be a little bit biased! Today my mindees have.... made glitter playdough, printed with poster paints, been to the shop (where we saw a little friend of theirs), played an educational game on the computer, had a story read, made a duplo railway track, came with me for a short car ride to drop my daughter off in town and seen the market, printed off planet picures and made a space poster using paper they had previously marbled as backing, hung 'washing' out on a play washing line with real pegs in the garden, used Word on the computer to write a story, made finger frog puppets, made a fuzzy felt scene and practised writing in an ABC wipe-clean book!

Karam Fri 28-Aug-09 18:32:11

I have used both (childminder and nursery), and if I were to start again, then I'd probably use a childminder.

My DD1 went to nursery, whilst she liked it, she never loved it iyswim. This was an ofsted outstanding nursery as well, btw.

DD2 on the other hand loves her childminder. She has not been all summer and when I told her this morning she was going back to the CM, she jumped up and down with excitement and shouted Hurrah. She regularly says "I love, DD1, Mummy, Daddy, Nanny, Grandad and my CM". There is a bond there that DD1 never gained from her nursery. I think the CM will remain a part of our lives for a long time to come.

The other benefit I have found to using a CM is that because she is in the local community, all her children are going to the same preschool (and later, school) as my DD. Whereas with my DD1, although she went to the nearest nursery to us, only one other child came up to her school from the nursery.

The downside I have found is that as children get older, it doesn't get any cheaper. The childcare vouchers that I would have got as a discount on the nursery fees is now used to pay for the preschool that DD goes to. I still have to pay for the childminder for the morning that DD is at preschool as the Cm takes and collects her - so it is now more expensive than a nursery iyswim!

Lots of people raise the questions about sickness - but in the three years I have used the CM, she hasn't yet had a day off sick... and other friends I know who use CMs also say this is very rare as when they don't CM, they don't get paid - hence the fact they don't tend to take time off unless they really need to.

My experience of using a CM has been extremely positive and my DDs love going to the CM. DD1 would prefer it if I worked more so she could go to the CM once a week, as she told me today! It is lovely having another adult like her in children's lives. HTH

MIAonline Fri 28-Aug-09 18:52:12

If you want to actually keep them together, rather than in the same building then go for a childminder. Did the nursery they went to have separate rooms? In the UK, they will almost always be split in to separate rooms and rarely/ if ever, see each other.

Your childminder will be able to drop of your eldest at pre-school or nursery if you wish him to attend and use your free 12.5/15 hours entitlement and he can mix with children he will be going to school with in your local area.

SkivingViking Fri 28-Aug-09 20:49:06

Allthatglisters - that sounds a lovely day!

Do childminders normally go to groups and things so the children get to meet and play with other children?

I asked this on the other thread, but will ask here as well! What happens if a childminder is ill - ie, will he / she give a bit of warning so the parent can try to arrange alternative childcare (ie, the evening before, or a few hours before, rather than just tell you when you turn up at their house)? Do you really not pay for your childminder if they are ill?

Sorry, lots of questions, but I have zero experience of the whole system and it is quite different in the UK.

The nursery where they are at the moment have different groups and rooms for each group and normally they start in the babies room, and then move to the next level when they are about 2 1/2 (it varies - they prefer to go by the child and what they feel rather than actual age) until they are about 4, then they go to the next level again until they are 6 (when they start school).

Dd and ds have been in separate rooms (for their ages) but on the same floor and the nursery have a policy whereby if a child wants to visit another room then they are very welcome to, but otherwise the groups generally stay within their own rooms. So dd and ds are free to go and visit each other and play with other when want to or 'need' to, but they also have their own space.

Karam Fri 28-Aug-09 20:53:50

Yes, my childminder has a very active day with my DDs. I know she has a regular childminding group where she meets up with other childminders in a hall they hire etc. Today she took them out to go round a local park and play on the swings etc.. I think it is quite common for CMs to take children out and do things with them, at least locally it is!

Littlefish Fri 28-Aug-09 21:00:48

My childminder used to go to local toddler groups regularly with my dd. She also made an effort to take her every couple of weeks to the toddler group in the village where dd is going to school so that she could meet some other children she might go to school with.

My childminder also plans trips out to the park, soft play places, music groups etc. Obviously, I pay the entrance fees for these things on top of the weekly fees.

For younger children I would always use a childminder. I think there is far more opportunity for a childminder to be flexible and cater for children's individual needs.

You might find that a compromise is for both children to attend a childminder, but with your older child using their nursery funding to do a few sessions at a local nursery as well. This will give her the opportunity to mix with other children of her own age some of the time, and with her sister at others.

We did this mix very successfully for 2 years so that that dd (only child) could spend time with her cousin at the childminder and maintain a close relationship with him, whilst developing friendships with other children her own age at nursery.

allthatglisters Sat 29-Aug-09 08:52:58

We go out most mornings in term time - Childminders gp at a Surestart Centre (beautiful toys and facilities), the local Toy Library session, and we visit other CMs or they visit us - we provide nice activities and snacks for the children - e.g. this week we had a teddy bears picnic which included key ring making, and blueberries, toasted bagels, apple, and banana for snacks. In the holidays we meet up in parks, and hire the recreation centre hall for table tennis, badminton (nets low) and ball games. We also hire an astroturf football pitch for ball games. The children get to know each other well and are very secure. I do not charge extra for these things. In the past I have taken mindees to booked gym sessions at the recreation centre for which parents paid.

In case of my sudden sickness I provide parents with a sheet with details of the childminders who we regularly see, and they would have to phone them to arrange care (IF those CMs have available spaces that day). It would be a good idea to ask to meet them in advance. As already said, CMs tend to be a hardy bunch!

SkivingViking Tue 01-Sep-09 08:46:23

Sorry - haven't checked on here for a few days!

Thank you so much for all your replies!

I am actually drawn more and more to the idea of a childminder. Not least because the more research I have been doing, the more it seems apparent that nurseries (especially that take under 2's) seem quite few and far between and all have waiting lists anyway, and my impression is that the care seems perhaps a bit more personal with a childminder? (Very important to me - I know I have been very, very lucky with the nursery here and it is just like a big family!)

I have been using the when researching childcare up until now - is that the definitive childcare link or can anyone recommend another site that might good for finding childminders?

I am also quite worried about the time aspect. This move has all happened so suddenly. Is it completely unrealistic of me to think I can find a childminder for 2 already for October?

You childminders that have posted sound lovely - don't have any spaces do you wink

SkivingViking Tue 01-Sep-09 08:47:56

Allthatglisters - sorry, forgot to add - thank you for telling about your system for when you need the day off. Something else of course i would need to ask any prospective childminders, but at least it gives me an idea of one way how it might work (and I think it's a good system - I'd be happy with that!)

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