Based on my recent experiences of looking for a pre-school for my two and a half year old twins; here are my top tips for how to choose a pre-school for your two year old…
Firstly… think about what kind of childcare is most suited to your family?
Types of childcare
Nurseries tend to have longer hours, more structure and more facilities, but they are expensive.
There are also childminders, nannies or au pairs to consider, childminders usually mind your child in their own home, along with a small number of other children (dependant on age as to how many they can take). Nannies or Au Pairs live with you in your house and tend to do chores as well as mind the children.
Then there are Pre-schools. Most of these take children from two years old, but you should check, as some don’t take them until a little later. Pre-schools are generally a lot cheaper than nurseries, sometimes they receive charity funding or government funding, which lowers the price per session.
Tips for choosing a pre-school
- Schedule a visit to look around. Don’t go on the website or word of mouth alone. You don’t know how up to date the website is, and what works for other children, might not work for you.
- Meeting the staff and having a chat with them, will give you an idea of the types of attitudes they adopt towards the children and how much they care.
- Prepare some questions you want to ask before you get there.
Questions might include:
What age can children start at this pre-school?
Do you take children who are still in nappies?
What hours / days / times are the sessions?
How much are the fees?
Is lunch / snack provided? If yes, is there an additional charge?
How often do you get to view the records kept of your children’s progress?
What methods of discipline do they use if your children are naughty?
Do you have availability or is there a waiting list?
How many staff members are trained first aiders and what qualifications do the staff hold?
Twin specific questions
How seriously do they take differentiating between your twins?
Do they treat twins as individuals?
Will your twins be encouraged to interact with the other children or will they always be paired together?
If your twins have developmental delays… Are they fully trained and equipped to deal with that?
- Whilst visiting, look at what the children currently in the pre-school are doing. Do they seem happy? Is there any structure to the activities or is it just free play? If it is just free play, you might want to ask how often they do more structured activities.
- Go with your gut instinct. If something doesn’t feel right – don’t send your children there. If you love the vibe from the staff and the other children.
In the UK, when your child turns three years old, you can qualify for a set number of hours of childcare for free. Some people qualify for this when your child is two. This can include people on a low income, benefits or children who have been referred by a health visitor. You must always check with the childcare provider that you wish to use, if they offer these free childcare places, as some don’t.
People on working tax credits or students in full time education, can also qualify for a percentage of their childcare fees paid, you can read more about that here.