Should my toddler go to nursery?
If you have a toddler at home with you then you might be wondering if now is the time to send them to nursery or preschool. There’s been quite a lot of research in the last few years showing nursery can be good for them, increasing their confidence and social skills. But maybe you feel upset at the idea of being away from your child or it simply doesn’t feel right.
Nursery and preschool aren’t your only childcare options, you can explore all of them in How to choose the right childcare for my toddler.
What’s the difference between nursery and preschool?
If you’re looking for a nursery for your toddler then you might hear them called preschools. However there are differences between the two.
- You can send your child to nursery from about six weeks until they’re ready for school. But preschool usually takes children from around 3-5, until they start school.
- Preschools are often attached to a school, usually only run during term time and often mirror school day times (roughly 9am-3pm). They sometimes only run morning or afternoon sessions, two or three times a week. At nursery you can get full or part-time care, usually from around 7.30am-6pm for most weeks of the year.
- Preschools follow the national curriculum, a programme of learning that is also taught in schools. Nurseries don’t have to do this so have more flexibility around the structure of days and what activities are available.
And how much does it cost?
You can expect to pay an average of £13,231 per year for your two year old.
Once your child is aged 3-4 you get 30 hours free childcare a week.
Most nurseries will let you use this to cover some of your nursery fees. And most preschools offer 30 or less hours so you don’t have to pay. You can find out what funded childcare is available in your area and apply for places through your local authority website. If you want full-time care it’s best to approach private nurseries individually.
Why should I send my child to preschool or nursery?
It’s a very personal choice but there’s plenty of evidence that it’s good for kids to socialise. They’ll get to try out lots of different activities and it’s great preparation for school.
It’s also a chance for you to get back a bit of time, whether that’s to work or just do something for you. However you’ll still need to cover childcare if they get sick or during holidays if you’re thinking about preschool.
Ultimately you need to do what’s right for you and your little one. Think about chatting to your health visitor, family or friends to get a balanced perspective.
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