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Is the most expensive childminder really the best one for your child?

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You may be wondering ‘is the most expensive childminder really the best?’ The United Kingdom is an expensive place to live, and it’s an even more expensive place to bring up children. I was shocked to learn that childcare in the UK is the second most expensive in the world. I’m currently in the process of looking for a childminder for my second child, and I’m in one heck of a conundrum.

How much is it worth paying for childcare? And, if I pay top whack, will my child be getting a better deal? A friend of mine, who enjoys the finer things in life, has passed me a list of elite local childminders, and they cost almost as much as I earn.Is the most expensive childminder the best?

My friend (OK, OK, she’s not really my friend, she’s my nightmare sister-in-law) tells me that the more expensive a childminder, the better. She’s also been laying the guilt trip on me, asking how I could ever forgive myself for sending my child somewhere ‘inferior,’ as she puts it. It’s all well and good for her, being a kept woman by my wealthy brother, but this is hardly the down-to-earth advice I need.

So, I’ve been doing a little digging, in an attempt to find out how to choose the best childminder, not just for my child, but for my conscience, and my limited budget.

What is right for you and your child?

Firstly, it’s important to decide whether a childminder is right for you. Childminders look after children in their own home, and provide learning and care suitable for your child’s age. Your child will be a part of a mixed group, containing anywhere up to six children, younger than eight. Childminders charge by the hour, and are inspected at least once every three years. They are given one of four grades: inadequate, satisfactory, good, and outstanding.

Have a contract

It’s recommended you have a written agreement or contract, even for a short-term arrangement with your childminder. Ask if the potential childminder will charge for any extras, such as nappies, food, and outings. Make sure you agree on weekly and hourly fees, and also discuss holiday, sickness, and overtime payments. Find out if you will incur penalties if you are late in picking up your child, whether there is a retainer fee, what notice period your childminder needs, and what cover she has for when she is on holiday, or sick.Is the most expensive childminder the best?

Speak to your child

One thing that is often overlooked, especially by busy working parents, is the opinion of the child. After all, children are excellent at picking up vibes. You may walk into an establishment, and be exceptionally impressed by the tidy toys and impossibly neat rows of shoes near the door. A place like this may imply hygiene and efficiency, but it could mean a less exciting time for your offspring. If your child minder is more concerned about her cream carpets than letting children have messy fun whilst finger-painting, it could be a good idea to look elsewhere with less strict standards.

Be thorough

And do not be afraid to be rigorous when meeting potential minders – for some reason, British parents are reserved when it comes to probing into such detail, but it’s time to lose the stiff upper lip, and dig deep into your childminders qualifications, opinions on training and discipline, snacking, and safety precautions.

Questions you may want to ask are:

  • What is your approach to discipline? What do you consider as bad behaviour? What kind of discipline techniques do you use?
  • What will you be feeding my child? What is in a typical meal? How often do you allow children to snack on sugary treats?
  • Describe a typical day. Do you look after other children? Will you pick my child up from school?
  • What kind of activities will you do with my child? Please can I see some examples?

 Is the most expensive childminder the best?

There are no right or wrong answers to these questions, and yes, it may feel impolite to ask. However, you are within your rights to know how your child will be treated. If a potential childminder gives snobby, evasive, or abrupt answers to these questions, then it’s certainly time to move onto the next contact in the Yellow Pages.

Socialising

Using a childminder is a brilliant way to introduce your child to the ways of the society and to become worldly wise, too especially when it comes to socialising with different kids from different backgrounds. If your child has no siblings, being part of a childminding group will give them the chance to start feeling comfortable around children of different ages, and even different races and backgrounds.

Choosing a childminder should be a journey of the heart and common sense, not just of the pocket. Although someone should try telling that to my sister-in-law…

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