Did you see Prince George started his first day of nursery school last week?
I can’t believe it’s been a whole year since Alyssa started her first day. This year she will be going to the bigger Pre-school class and she’s very excited to get the year started. Alyssa attends a Montessori Preschool and I’m very happy with our decision to go the Montessori route with regards to her learning. Before we made that decision though, Kurt and I done our investigations as to the different types of care that was available and what would work best for our family. We done this because we have actually seen some friends and colleagues become quite upset when they realised the type of care their little one is receiving is not what they’d been expecting.
So if your little one’s growing up and it’s time to start thinking about the different childcare options, here is some information about the different types of care available:
Sometimes also known as Daycare, these facilities usually offer your child a day with structured activities intermixed with naps, meals and outdoor play. The staff taking care of the children may have certificates in childcare but will not necessarily have degrees in early child hood development. A Creche or Daycare facility usually come at a lower cost than the other options and have longer operating hours, some opening as early as 6am. Many of these facilities will also look after babies from as early as 3 months old.
An Educare facility is run on a similar basis as a creche, but the cost is generally a little bit higher for the following reasons: Playtimes at Educares usually follow a formalised series of themes and the focus is on education – teaching letters, shapes, numbers and sometimes even early-stage reading. An Educare generally has a grade R class attached, although they do not always follow a syllabus recognised by the department of education, so remember to verify this. If there is a grade R class, the teacher may have a degree in early childhood development, but this will not always be the case. Educares generally operate on a full day basis but there are usually shorter day options as well. Some have baby classes whilst others only take on children from round about 18 months old.
Pre-primary schools usually offer half-day Programmes, while some also offer aftercare and holiday facilities. These schools generally don’t have any baby classes and take on kids from about 18 months onwards. Teachers will have degrees in early childhood development and the grade R class will be registered and follow the syllabus of government or private schools.
There is also a wide range of teaching philosophies and education methods, such as traditional, Montessori, Waldorf and others. The fees tend to be at the higher end of the range and you pay extra for aftercare and holiday care. Meals usually aren’t provided so you would also need to make provision for that. There is plenty of free play time and also plenty of supervised activity time. Older children are not usually given a sleep time, and the day usually doesn’t start until 8:30am.
What I like about the Montessori philosophy is that it is based on a method which fosters and guides children’s in-built curiosity for learning. In a Montessori environment, it’s the children themselves who choose from the range of activities offered. Using sensory materials to provide intellectual, physical and psychological stimuli, Montessori schools aim to develop the child’s whole personality.
Your parenting philosophy, the age of your child as well as your budget will likely determine your decision. However it helps to know what the different types of care offer before you start actively looking.