Types of childcare
Children and families are all different - but you can be sure that there's a childcare choice out there for everyone!
Whether you are looking for group-based childcare, or want one-to-one care for your child, read on to find out more about the options open to you.
Registered childminders are self-employed childcare professionals who work in their own homes caring for other people’s children. They care for small numbers of children in their home-setting and will often care for a range of ages. Childminders can be flexible and offer patterns of childcare to support many families.
They are able to take easy advantage of real-life learning experiences like outings to the park and library. Just like other forms of registered childcare, childminders are regulated and inspected by Ofsted in England, and CIW in Wales. Some childminders are able to offer free, funded, early education sessions for 2-, 3-, and 4-year-olds. Find out more about registered childminding.
Hear from one mum about why she chose a registered childminder.
Nannies are employed by parents to care for their children in the parental home. They care for smaller numbers of children (usually siblings) and can take care of all aspects of looking after your child including caring for their clothes and possessions and cooking their food. Many families work in a nanny-share arrangement, providing childcare to more than one family. Find out more about nannies.
Day nurseries look after and educate children from 3 months to 5 years and tend to open from 8.00am to 6.00pm, but some are open even longer hours. Most are open from Monday to Friday, but a few now open at weekends to help support parents' different working patterns. Day nurseries operate all year round, usually with the exception of bank holidays. Some nurseries close between Christmas and New Year, while others remain open. Most offer the free early education places that are available to 2-, 3-, and 4-year-olds. Find out more about day nurseries.
Pre-schools provide play and education sessions for children between 2 and 5. Most pre-schools will be open five mornings a week, with some providing afternoon sessions as well. Some have flexibility on the sessions your child can attend, while others are more structured with children attending five full mornings or five full afternoons. Pre-schools and playgroups tend run term time only, from around 9am to lunchtime or from lunchtime to around 3 or 4pm, depending of the sessions they operate. Find out more about pre-schools.
Some schools have nursery classes as part of their offer. These can be a great introduction for your child to the school and the group of children they will meet in Reception. Nursery classes accept children for the academic year before they would start school. Nursery classes operate during school hours, term time only, with a session in the morning and a session in the afternoon. Find out more about nursery classes.
Families with school age children will often need childcare at the beginning or end of the school day as well as during school holidays. This wraparound care can be provided by a range of different settings, from breakfast and after-school clubs to holiday schemes. These may be linked to the child’s school or based in the local community.
All after-school provision needs to be registered, either as part of the school it operates in, or with Ofsted or CIW (if operating for over two hours a day in Wales).
Care for disabled children
If you have a disabled child, you may find that you need more specialised care to meet their needs. Many childcare providers offer care for children with special educational needs and/or disabilities (SEND), and there are some settings dedicated to the care of disabled children. No matter the setting you choose, a solid understanding of children’s development and how to provide for them is essential, so work with the provider to help them know and understand your child and their specific needs.