Childcare for your 2-year-old

Childcare can be fun for your 2-year-old - they’ll learn a lot too!

It can feel as if there are lots of decisions to make when you’re a parent. And the decision about childcare isn’t easy. You know what’s best for your child, so trust yourself, but be open to ideas you hadn’t thought of too.

Sometimes, you have no choice and have to find childcare to go back to work or study. Other times, you may be eligible for childcare funding but wonder whether it’s worth it.

Either way, you’ll first have to decide whether to take up childcare, then which type of childcare is best, then choose which childcare provider to try.

There is a lot to think about, but it doesn’t have to be a final decision. You can visit more than one, and there will often be a settling-in or trial period to give you a chance to get used to each other.

Here are some ways in which childcare can be good for your 2 year old, you and your family:

Childcare is fun!

Childminders pack a lot of fun activities and games into a day. They might go out and about to toddler groups, soft play, the woods, beach or local farm. When at home, they’ll do singing, storytelling, making, building, cooking, painting, or games in the garden. They have a wide range of toys to play with, so whatever your child is interested in, they’ll find something to enjoy.

Childcare is safe

Childminders are registered with Ofsted or a childminding agency, just like schools and nurseries. Only childminders with a “good” or “outstanding” Ofsted rating can offer funded 2-year-old places. They have checks to ensure their suitability (DBS checks) and are insured. They have lots of professional training and know about keeping children safe. They also do regular risk assessments. But even with all this in place, you still need to be able to trust your childminder, so ask as many questions you like and tell them what you’re worried about. Chances are they’ll have heard it before and will be able to put your mind at ease.

Children learn a lot

Two year olds’ brains are developing quickly. They pick up everything around them - what to say and how to behave. They are active too and learn new things from trying them out. They learn a lot from playing and childminders are trained to make sure the activities they do make the most of this.

They make friends

They might not make friends straightaway, as 2-year-olds often play next to each other, rather than with another child, but getting used to the other children will help when they go to school. Childminders look after small groups of children of different ages, so they can get to know each other well, and it sometimes feels like a big family. They will also learn social skills such as sharing and taking the feelings of other children into account.

Structure and routine

Sounds boring, but young children love routine and some structure in their day. Knowing what to expect helps them feel safe and secure. This can be taking the older children to school at the same time each day, or stopping in the park on the way home, when to sit down for a meal, or listen to a story.

You get support and time to yourself

You may need time to rest, work, study, catch up with housework, spend with a new baby, or look for a job. Whatever you use the time for, you can be sure your two year old is in good hands. Childminders are not only trained to look after your child, but they can be a good person for you to talk to too. They are often parents themselves and are connected with a wide range of people that can help if you are struggling or concerned about your child in some way.

There is always someone on the end of a phone to help you make up your mind about childcare too. You can talk through your childcare decisions with your health visitor or family information service, too.