Day nurseries mostly offer full day care from approx 8am till 6pm (some offer longer or shorter hours). Most day nurseries take children from babies up to school age. Some will offer after school pick up and care and holiday clubs for school age children too. Day nurseries may offer shorter length days or sessional care as well.
Day nurseries have to be registered with OFSTED in England and other regulatory bodies in Scotland and Wales. They are subjected to regular inspections and at least half of the staff should have an early years qualification.
Day nurseries can be varied in size but most take between 25 and 40 children. The nursery will group the children in areas in separate age groupings. The older children will be following the early years curriculum.
Day nurseries are often open all year round apart from some that close for a short time at Christmas.
Fees for day nurseries are around £150 a week for a full time place for a 2 year old child but this can be more and you can expect to pay around £200 a week in London.
Day nurseries have four main types of ownership,
Private – individually owned but can also be part of a chain owned by a company.
Workplace – set up by an employer to provide subsidised childcare for their staff (sometimes in conjunction with an outside company)
Community – a not for profit organisation for the local community
Local Authority – these are mainly for families needing support and places may be free.
Montessori – this is an approach to educating young children that focuses on freedom and independence for children to learn at their own pace. Montessori provides children with a range of experiences to stimulate a child to love learning and discovery. It aims to inspire trust, confidence and independence in young children so that they can cope confidently with the world around them.
There are many benefits for sending your child to a day nursery such as a safe, clean and stimulating environment for your child to be cared for by experienced staff, flexible hours which fit in with a full working day, open all year round, your child will learn to socialise and play with other children, regular inspections and CRB checked staff, and your child will follow a structured education plan.
The downsides to a day nursery are that your child is not in their own home, a nursery may not be able to cover for hours involved in shift work, your child will be looked after by several carers, fees can be expensive, there can be a waiting list for good nurseries, there may be travel involved to get to the nursery, and your child will not be able to go to a nursery if they are ill.