Arranging suitable childcare during the school holidays can be a huge challenge for working parents. Many families get a hand from grandparents and other relatives, but if you do not have the luxury of family close by then we can help you explore the different options for holiday childcare and activities. Good quality childcare can provide your children with fun and new experiences during school holidays, with opportunities to make new friends, stay fit and healthy and maybe even learn a new skill at the same time. Best Bear offers a comprehensive childcare search once you have decided which options are most suitable for your holiday childcare needs.
Holiday play schemes offer organised play and activities for school aged children during the school holidays, at an affordable price.
Activities on offer are designed to stimulate and educate children, and include sports, outdoor and indoor games, arts, crafts and drama, swimming and day trips. These clubs can be offered as part of a school's extended services, but can also be run by private or voluntary organisations. They can be based on school premises, or in youth clubs, village halls, community centres or sports/leisure centres.
They usually open five days a week during school holidays, and offer childcare for children aged 5 to 11, though some do also cater for older children. They tend to run from 9.30am to 3.30pm, with children staying for lunch, though many also offer additional breakfast and late afternoon sessions, offering a full day’s childcare from 8am through to 6pm. Some holiday clubs only open for selected weeks in the holidays.
On average, holiday playschemes cost £20.00 per day, but this varies.
Click here to find out more about school holiday schemes near you
Community play schemes (which tend to be run by local councils or voluntary organisations) are sometimes held for two week periods in the summer holidays in community centres, schools or village halls. They provide morning and afternoon sessions and cater for children 5 - 12 years.
There is usually a nominal charge to cover costs.
Childminders and day nurseries
Some childminders and day nurseries will offer places during school holidays, depending on whether they have free spaces.
Childminders offer childcare in their own home, and usually work from 8.00 am to 6.00 pm but many are flexible. They will charge anything between £2.50 and £7.50 an hour depending on location.
Your local Family Information Service (FIS) can give you a list of childminders with places available
0800 096 0296
Day nurseries care for children and babies from three or four months old up to school age.
The majority of nurseries open between 7.30 and 8.00 and close at 6 or 6.30. They tend to cost from £150 to £200 per week, again depending on location.
Nannies and home-based carers
Nannies are employed by parents to look after children in the family home either on a live-in or live-out basis. They should either be qualified childcare professionals or should have at least two years’ experience of caring for children.
They can look after children of any age, and their hours are usually flexible.
Nannies' fees will start at around £6.00 (or £9.00 in London) per hour, but this tends to vary greatly. You will also have to pay your nanny's tax and National Insurance contributions.
To cut costs, you might also want to consider a nanny share. Not only will this cut the costs by nearly half it will also provide a playmate for your child/ren. You can only operate a nanny share with one other family. If a nanny takes on children from three families or more they would have to be registered as a childminder.
A number of organisations offer adventure and holiday camps for children. Some of these are residential, while others are simply day camps. Activities offered include sport, arts and crafts or camping trips.
The British Activity Holiday Association is the trade association for providers of activity holidays and courses in the UK. Member centres have all agreed to abide by the BAHA Code of Practice and are committed to high standards of safety, value for money and customer service.
If a childcare setting caters for children younger than eight years old, they must be registered by Ofsted. Likewise, if they open more than two hours a day on more than five days a year, they also need to be registered with Ofsted. All registered providers offering childcare will have been issued a certificate from Ofsted providing details of the number of children, age range and qualifications of the staff or provider.
Anyone who works with children and young people will also have had to have had a police check (CRB check).
If you recruit childcare direct, for instance employ an au pair or nanny from a website which offers CV listings, such as Best Bear, then it is always recommended that you ensure references are thoroughly checked. Best Bear offers a cost effective reference checking service where we speak to each referee on the phone, asking detailed questions before providing a report within 7-10 days. http://bestbear.co.uk/reference-checking-service/
You may wish to consider joining a childcare voucher scheme. Childcare vouchers can be used to pay for all types of registered childcare, including day nurseries, nannies, au pairs, crèches, childminders, out of school clubs, holiday schemes, activity clubs and qualifying childcare offered by schools.
They provide tax savings and allow you to spread the cost of holiday childcare throughout the year.
By Best Bear Childcare www.bestbear.co.uk