The issue of childcare is one that many parents fret about. There are a number of options to consider, and although nurseries and nannies are viable choices, some people feel more comfortable with the idea of a childminder. The type of childcare provider you go with will usually depend on circumstances and preferences as well as the needs of the child in question. If you are considering sending your son or daughter to a childminder, there are a few things to think about before making your final decision.
One of the main benefits of using a registered childminder is the fact that your son or daughter will be a part of a smaller group. Those who take care of children in their own homes tend to have a small group of children that your own child will get to know and interact with.
With smaller group settings, there is a higher chance that your child will get more one-on-one attention, than he or she would in a nursery, where the number of children is often much higher. Quality time with one carer is something that a lot of parents feel is very important when deciding what type of childcare provider to go with. In addition, within smaller group settings there is less chance of your child catching an illness from other children.
If you are considering this type of care, know that the maximum number of children in the group will be six if they are younger than eight years of age. This includes the childminder’s own children. Of the six children, only three can be five or younger and only one can be under the age of one. In Scotland, there can only be two children under the age of eighteen months in one group. The group may be smaller if the home in which they are being cared for is small, or larger if there is an assistant.
Home-cooked meals that are typically taken with the childminder and his or her family is another benefit of this type of care. Moreover, many children tend to develop a close bond with their carer, which is another reason many parents prefer this option.
What You Should Ask a Childminder
If you have decided that you prefer the idea of your child being taken care of in a smaller group setting, then you can set about the task of finding the right childminder to suit your requirements and circumstances.
It is a good idea to interview a number of childcare providers before making your decision, and there are a number of questions that you can ask to help you find the one who is right for you and your child. For example, one of the most important questions you should ask is about the qualifications and experience that the potential childminder has.
Anyone providing care to children in their own home will need to be registered with the relevant authorities. Furthermore, while specific qualifications may not be necessary, a pre-registration course must have been completed. There are many who will have qualifications in childcare, however. You should also check if a first-aid course has been completed.
Depending on the age of your child, you might want to know if pick-ups and drop-offs to a local school or nursery is an option. If you are leaving your child early in the morning, it will be essential that the childminder can do this for you.
You should also ask about the other children within the group; for example, their ages and how many children are actually in the group. This will give you a clearer idea of the age ranges of children that your child will be mixing with.
It is also important to ask about what other adults your child will be coming into contact with. If your son or daughter is to be looked after in another person’s home, it is highly likely that other adults will be around from time to time. You need to make sure that you are comfortable with this. Ask about how safe and secure your child is going to be, and how the minder would potentially deal with minor accidents and the administration of medication.
You can also enquire about the types of activities your child will be taking part in and whether day trips are included. Some childminders like to take their groups to the park or to a soft play area on occasion. Make sure that if such activities are going to be included that preparations for the safety of your child have been considered.
Can You Get Help with the Cost of Childcare?
In the UK, there is help available with the cost of childcare. Provided your child is with an approved carer or organisation and meets specific conditions, you might be entitled to some sort of help with the costs. In England, all children aged three to four are entitled to free childcare or early education.
From the term after your child’s third birthday, you will be entitled to 570 free hours per year. This equates to around fifteen hours per week over the course of thirty-eight weeks. However, it is possible to claim fewer hours each week over a longer period. Working parents might be entitled to thirty hours per week provided they are working more than sixteen hours per week and not earning more than £100,000 per year.
There may also be help with the cost of childcare for two-year-olds if you are in receipt of certain benefits. Free childcare stops when your child either starts school or reaches compulsory school age.
In Scotland, free childcare is available for all children aged three or four years old. Up to six hundred hours of funded childcare and early learning is available, which equates to almost sixteen hours per week over 38 weeks. For children aged between two and three, help might be available if you are in receipt of certain benefits.
Check for Recommendations and References
We must mention one more thing before closing. One of the best ways to find a suitable childminder is through word of mouth. Nevertheless, if you do not know anyone who is using this type of childcare, you can ask for references. Alternatively, you can check online for reviews. People who are happy with the service are likely to recommend it and leave positive reviews for other parents who might be considering this type of childcare.