Choosing pre-school options

There will come a time in your child’s life when it’s time to start thinking about your child’s education outside of the family home. If you use a child-minder or nanny, you may be considering which pre-school to send your child to once they reach 2/3 years of age

Children of all ages can benefit from being together with peers of their own age in a pre-school setting and these are simply not limited to the educational outcomes that spending some of their time in a pre-school can bring. There are many other benefits, which we’ll talk about further down. What can prove difficult is working out which pre-school educational facility is the best fit for your family; we’ll examine this further during this article.

What pre-schools are available in the UK?

In the UK, a child does not legally have to be in full-time education until they are five years of age, with many children starting their education when they are four but in the year that they will turn five in a reception class attached to a school (home schooling is also legal in the UK). But where can your child go before they turn four? Well there are various options available to children.


Pre-schools usually offer child care education for children from age two to four years of age and they are run privately and charge a fee for your child to attend. Three and four year old children are currently entitled (this is changing in 2016/17 to 30 hours) to receive 15 hours of government funded child care in a registered setting, which means they can attend a setting of their parents choice for 15 hours without there being a charge (some charge extra for food, snacks) as long as the setting provides this. Anything extra would become payable by the parents. Pre-schools opening hours vary from setting to setting and offer various activities, you would have to check with local ones in your area.


Nurseries can usually offer childcare from age 6 months to 4 year of age and can be open anytime from 7 am to 6 pm Monday to Friday. There are private fees that must be paid and when the child reaches three, they can again use the government funded 15-hour childcare. The government also has an extra scheme where parents on a certain income maybe eligible to receive some funding for their two year old, but you should enquire within the individual setting.

Nurseries usually offer full and half days for all children up to the age three and then the child will enter the education times which are similar to school hours 9-3. Parents again can choose to use the full school day times or half days. Parents that want to use the nursery after these hours can choose the use the extended care i.e. breakfast club, afternoon session.


Playground are run at certain times in specific buildings. Playgroups can operate under certain groups for example parents groups; and they are usually only open for specific sessions. Playgroups may request a small charge for using their service and parents/carers will usually stay with their child throughout the session.

Benefits of pre-schools

The following benefits of children attending a pre-school setting are:

  • Pre-school promote children’s intellectual and language development. The child will be able to interact with various educational resources, which will allow them to chance to develop a whole range of skills such as pre Maths, English, understanding the world and science. Children have free access and are encouraged to develop their interests in a relaxed setting.
  • It promotes their social and emotional development by allowing children to interact with other children from different cultures/background. Children learn to share resources, take turns and learn from one another in a safe environment
  • Helps promote independence away from their main carers. When children attend a setting where they feel safe and cared for, they will be more likely to develop trust and be better prepared to learn away from home, which can assist them through their later educational years and development
  • Helps children to make choices and learn how to take care of themselves. Children can often rely on their main carers even when they are at a stage in their development where they could perhaps do more for themselves. Attending pre-schools can encourage children to take ownership over their own actions and day-today conduct.
  • Pre-schools enables children to develop their language and cognitive skills as they will be around materials and resources that allow them to develop at their own pace. They may come into contact with different aspects of life other than at home and this can offer a wife range of learning opportunities for them
  • Pre-schools can actively encourage children to develop their physical and motor skills, both fine and gross. Children get to run around and interact with one another, developing their everyday skills little by little.

As you can see there are huge benefits of sending your child to a pre-school setting, and although you may be apprehensive at first, settling your child in slowly and consistently should ensure a smooth transition between home and setting. Having your nanny settle the child into a pre-school can be comforting and reassuring to both parent and child.

This should occur slowly over an agreed period of time, so that everybody feels comfortable. A child that is cared for by a nanny can find that they benefit greatly from spending some time with peers in an educational setting. All you need to do is just check and visit your local area for pre-schools and check their OFSTED reports to ensure you pick the best pre-school for your family.