Nursery v childminder? Which did you pick and why?(46 Posts)
I have found a nursery that I like and a childminder that I like. I really can not decide which will be best for when I return to work 3 a week when my son is a year old.
What did you decide? Why? And are you happy with your choice?
There are a lot of threads on this if you want to search for them. We did childminder for baby, preschool plus childminder for toddler. Home atmosphere and pay per hour.
Nursery because I need full time childcare. On second dc and pleased so far we made right choice. We use an independent outstanding nursery which has a very play based environment, outside space, freshly cooked nutritious meals and 3 rooms split by age. The staff are all lovely.
around here all the childminders do big school runs so that means less flex as I had to be at cm for a certain time (so if I had a slightly later start then couldn't drop off 20 min later as they'd be in school run)
Also meant they have a lot of older children before and after school.
The above 2 points meant I felt I was paying for proper childcare 930-230 and before and after that facilitating part of a larger group and money making opportunity (understandably, just with a baby not environment I wanted)
Have also had several friends have bad cm experiences as they are all oversubscribed some of them are a little flakey not minding if people drop out because they'll easily fill spaces as suits (ie a week into school hols sending note saying would be taking last 2 weeks of summer hols off... Good luck trying to find holiday clubs etc or even getting more unpaid off work at that notice)
There are positives to cm which I have missed so when ds frequently threw a temp whilst teething nursery wouldn't accept him or souls send him home whereas a cm would have understood not illness. Also believe cm can be more flex with pick up times eg as one off later meetings etc
Here cm are approx £2 cheaper a day on ave, though a couple of posh new chain nurseries have opened as such high demand for spaces charging £10 more a day than other places 😯
I had a school friend whose mum was a child minder and whenever I went round all I ever saw was bored kids in front of a tv and a box of dirty broken toys. Admittedly that was a hell of a long time ago, but it made me decide that I could only use a childminder on personal recommendation. Then I noticed other people at work having trouble when their childminders were sick or had appointments so that made my mind up totally. I then visited 7 nurseries before I chose the one DS finally went to and he loved it there.
My DS (22 months) goes to nursery 2 mornings a week and has done for about 6 months. He and I love it and it was absolutely the best decision for us.
I'm always slightly surprised that people prefer childminders tbh, citing 'home' environment... I just think I wouldn't like a stranger looking after my child without a lot of other people around to make sure it was done properly, but I am a bit weird!!
But my son's nursery only has children of a very similar age together and each room has its own garden, which I really liked.
I chose a nursery 2 days a week (me for the rest of the week) as its a good introduction to structure, socialising with other children and she gets to do things there that she wouldn't with me/a childminder. It's brilliant.
I like that they do little projects for world events (making Christmas decorations, Mother's Day cards etc) and they have external visitors like farms. They hatched chicks this year and recently had butterflies too. It's very well thought out and structured for their age. My DD has been going since 11 months.
I think I might have considered a childminder if I'd been looking for 4 days plus but for me 2 days at nursery and 3 days at home provides a good balance between a home environment and more of a 'school-like' environment.
Having said that, the people I know who send their children to childminders love them too.
A good childminder trumps a poor nursery and vice versa. My choice was as much based on the fact that it was the setting I visited where I felt most at ease with the idea of leaving my PFB in their care. This happened to be a childminder (my runner up was a nursery, ahead of some other childminders I visited).
Childminders are Ofsted inspected and have to follow the same EYFS approach as nurseries. DS gets lots of structured activities (crafts, messy play, baking etc) as well as free play. Our childminder only has 2 early years children in addition to her own 2 children (no older children before/after school).
I do value the 'home from home' environment and the fact the childminder feels like extended family to us.
A big plus for us, not having any local family support, is that the childminder is flexible - if I need to work a bit late I can just text her and let her know, same if my train is delayed. The strict nursery hours would have been much more challenging for us.
The downside is having to cover childminder holidays and unexpected illnesses, although the trade off is that she is pretty flexible about taking DS if he is a little unwell.
Last thing to add - our childminder takes them out and about all the time - they are always in the park, and do visits to the petting zoo etc, as well as regularly going to toddler groups etc. They also sometimes go out to the shops, post office etc.
Nursery because I've seen too many childminders ignoring their charges and I felt nursery with more adults had more safeguards against that.
I had a nanny, so have no experience of either.
I didn't actually realise what a good service child minders provide, when my DC were babies, or I think I may have gone for that.
When I had a nanny, I liked it that my children would have a relationship with that person, and a childminder would provide the same.
I guess with a nursery, there is less need for emergency childcare, as a childminder may be ill and unable to look after DC themselves, whereas a nursery would have cover staff.
But then, if one child in a nursery gets ill, they all get it. There may not be such a risk of constant illnesses with a childminder looking after a small number of children.
Anyway, a vote for childminder, from me.
We opted for nursery. We didn't like the idea of DD being with one unsupervised person. What if they were a bad person? Who would know? I'm sure there are bad nursery workers too but at least they have other people around.
That might be completely unreasonable but that is what went through my mind when I first went back to work.
Childminder for flexibility. Had one amazing one and two rubbish.
Nursery. I couldn't find a childminder who was flaxible enough, around here their hours vary because they are taking older kids to school and a lot of them only work term-time or a few days a week. I was also concerned about cover for when the childminder is ill or goes on holiday. The ratios for childminders also meant that they would actually have more children per adult than at nursery, just that the ages of the children would be different. I wasn't happy with that and the fact that it was just one unsupervised adult.
It has been the right choice for us but we did find a very very good nursery and I'm really happy with it and the staff. They have also been really flexible like allowing us to add a day here and there is we have needed to. DS loves it too and is thriving.
We had two amazing childminders and one amazing nursery. We switched to childminders after we had our second DC because the childminder could take them to the local pre-school and it was probably half the price for a childminder as it would have been to have them both in nursery full time.
We were lucky as we were always very happy with our childminder, but now DS has started in reception we are going with an after school club because the unexpected last minute days off for sickness and term time holidays were a lot to cover and it meant we had hardly any AL left when the summer arrived.
Nursery here. We liked the more structured element of it, and the fact there were more children to mix with and more adults around.
An added bonus is not having to worry about childminder's hold/sick days, etc.
I think it does depend on the child, though. Nursery suits DD and she loves it there. She has a really good bond with her key worker but is also adaptable and isn't shy of new people. As she's our first DC and there are no cousins/other kids in the family nearby I like that she mixes with a range of kids of different ages. It's definitely made her more confident.
Oh, they do also go on trips so she's not just stuck in the same room all day. They usually go to the city farm every couple of weeks and when the chef was off sick they went to the market to get veg to make soup for lunch
I think there are plenty of good and bad nurseries and childminders and of course many are somewhere in between. For us though I wanted reliability - if one staff member at nursery is sick they can still go. And nursery is open 52 weeks a year whereas childminder will have hols when it suits them not when it suits you.
Our nursery is also very flexible in terms of letting us switch days etc which with my unpredictable work is invaluable. And both our sons have always enjoyed it (since about 10 months old) which is the main thing.
We went for cm when ds was 6 months old as liked the idea of him being in a home environment at such a young age he was happy there until 3 at which point he was bored. On reflection there was no learning of any type going on and the tv was on constantly he became the eldest and didn't like doing the school run with older kids then back to cm house with the babies. Cm didn't want to change and made out he was the problem it was quite acrimonious so we moved him to nursery/preschool which was best thing we could have done. When I go back to work after this mat leave ds will be 1 and going straight to nursery I'll never trust a cm again.
To be honest if you've already seen a childminder and nursery that you're equally happy with, then the main factors will be practical - cost and hours/flexibility.
For us the trade-off of having to work round CM's leave and illness was worth it for greater flexibility on hours day-to-day (my train home is often delayed which would be a real stress with strict nursery fines for late pick up), and the fact that she's more laid back than a nursery would be with illness (DS went in when he had chickenpox but was well in himself, because the only other children had already had it).
For other people who don't have an unreliable commute or have friends/relatives they could call on in an emergency, that trade off would be different.
We picked nursery as being the natural forerunner to the routine of going to school - we weren't looking for a home environment or surrogate parent figure as he already has a home/parents with us!
Nursery. We never even looked at childminders. I prefer the 'institution' set up of a nursery - lots of staff, manager to talk to, very structured activities etc.
Also we have no family help nearby so if a childminder was ill then we'd be a bit stuffed. We only have to worry about our kids sickness this way!
Although I will be thinking about a childminder possibly for school pick ups when my eldest starts.
Nursery 2 days and CM one day.
Nursery - meet more other children, more structured, wider range of in-facility opportunities (different types of craft etc) and equipment (different toys, sand pit, bikes etc.). More professional attitude to e.g. SEN.
CM - more family atmosphere, more chilled and relaxing (take longer naps!), they go on outings around town (it's opposite the fire station!). Much more flexible - we can pretty much add a day at will and on the odd occasion we've been late (e.g. late train) we've just added on half an hour to the next payment. Food is more interesting (our CM is not British so cooks food from her native culture and of course unlike nursery doesn't have a 4 week cycle of the same meals again and again, either!). They pretty much help/see it prepared every day which helps with eating well I think. Plays with older children too. Our CM does not do many school runs (she prefers to have full day preschoolers, but not to have full capacity every day) and there's more individual attention due to ratios.
She will take them if recovering from an illness but not allowed back at nursery (e.g. 2nd day after a 2 hour vomit-fest when they've been bouncing off the walls for the previous 24h).
Our CM lets them watch TV but only in limited amounts. She doesn't have a garden (but as I say v central so park/ducks/fire station).
Nursery - our nursery almost never has extra days so if we have an extra day's work or the CM is ill we are a bit stuck.
CM - if ill, as stated previously. Not as stimulating though she does try (also e.g. dressing up in her collection of saris). You do have to have a good personal relationship and that can occasionally be fraught over e.g. notice for holidays. More expensive.
We had hoped our CM would take DC1 after school but she does pickup (when she does it) from a different school and is looking for new full time babies/toddlers I think rather than school pickup children.
Originally I thought I was going to send my son to a local outstanding nursery when I returned to work after maternity leave.
During maternity leave I employed a childminder on a short term basis as I was doing some exams and she had him for one morning a week.
When I went to go back to work the nursery could only take him for 3 days week vacancy wise and I was so pleased I already knew a decent childminder and she had him the 2 days a week.
A year on the nursery offered me a full time place but I stuck with the original 3/2 day split for a number of reasons. I worked in a professional role and he childminder was able to have my son for longer and later hours than the nursery could which meant that I could work longer on those days if need be. Also work knew that there were days that I could stay later if required so when I left at 5.30 on the others to enable a pick up by 6 from the nursery they were not sniffy about this.
I felt it gave my son a mix of structured "class room" and "socialising" at nursery but a more nurturing, home and day trips out environment at the childminder. Also guess which one was still prepared to have him when he had chickenpox?
When he then started at nursery school and school we switched to the childminder solely for the wrap around care. I know I was very lucky in that I had an amazing childminder who did baking, painting etc with my son and today (he is now 24) she is still a friend.
Partly a financial question: nursery was more than we could afford.
But also, I wanted dc to be in a home atmosphere, where they would be taken around the local community and be part of an everyday home routine. Taking older children to school or even popping round the local shops for the occasional item was something I saw as a positive learning experience. It is a trust issue, but the CM we went for had a very good reputation built up over many years.
I'd say my expectations were more than met: dc grew up knowing far more people in our local community than I ever did, they attended craft clubs and other events with their CM, and I always felt they were safer with her than they were with me, as she was undeniably better trained and more experienced. They did all sorts of little projects round feast days from different cultures etc- very much the same sort of stuff they do at nursery. They also attended play school twice a week, so they did get used to the pre-school routine. And when they started school, they were already familiar with the school ground and the older children because they had been taken there daily for years- just like they would have been with an older sibling. And there were older children there who knew them and looked out for them.
Never any problems with illness, and there was a very well organised, very transparent system of cover between local childminders so you would never be left stranded if your own was ill or if there was an emergency. Always felt very safe with that aspect too, because it was so thought-through and organised.
In the end, we ended up using three different childminders, but that was purely for logistic reasons: we were satisfied with all three of them.
Nursery. Met 8 different childminders and was v unimpressed!
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