Preschool or Nursery?

Preschool or Nursery?

Preschool and Nursery?

When your child reaches that age, you’re going to have to decide, do you send your child to pre-school or nursery? And, if there is, what’s the difference?

As our eldest child got older, we knew it wouldn’t be long before we had to decide on whether we were going to put him into a preschool or a nursery. But with the whole education thing still being new to us, what do we choose, preschool or nursery?After a bit of research, talking to other parents and a little discussion between us, we decided to go with a local preschool.
Joshua starting preschool coincided with Harrison being born, so with my wife at home on maternity, picking up and dropping off, wasn’t an issue.  It also meant that I was able to continue working, at least until it was time for my wife to go back to work. Although we were both aware that preschool was term time only, we thought by putting the boys into a nursery would only prolong the eventuality of trying to make arrangements around school terms, once they had started school.
As Lucy’s maternity leave was coming closer to the end, discussions about what we were going to do about childcare, was now frequent and to be truthful, a worrying topic in our house. It was during this period that we both agreed that the best option would be for me to become a Stay At Home Dad.

So Why Then Did We Not Choose A Nursery?

We discovered that a nursery will generally care for children from the age of six months although some will care for them from the age of six weeks. This would have been the ideal solution for us both at the time as the hours were aimed around working parents. The opening and closing times were also very flexible, so again, this would have been convenient with both of us working full-time at the time.

Now, some people will (and have) call us mad, but we both agreed before we had the boys that they would never be an inconvenience to us. We also agreed (due to my background) that we will protect our children to the best of our ability (as most parents will). Preventing some of the experiences that I had as a child happening to our own children was important, and a top priority.

RELATED:  Pets for Children?

Although placing our eldest in a nursery would have brought us time and earn us a bit more money, it was more in our interest than his. And besides which, we would still need to sort out  childcare during the holidays, once they both started school on a full-time basis.

As we looked more into preschools and nurseries, we discovered that nurseries tended to provide a variety of social and physical activities throughout the day whereas preschools were more focused on education. And, as we have been reminded on so many occasions by the preschool staff, ‘we are getting your child ready in preparation for school’. Going the educational route rather than the ‘play’ option was also a factor whilst making our decision.

It wasn’t an easy choice to make, but the result of which means that they have both had a great start into the education sector, along with it,  a whole new lifestyle for me.

Because for me, although there are no more meetings, late nights or long hours, my priorities had changed. Instead, I find myself meeting other parents, getting less sleep and being on call 24/7. Oh, the joys of being a SAHD.

If you have reached this point yourself, here are some things you may wish to consider.

  • Most nurseries are private, however, we did discover that there are some public ones around that are run by the local council. To find your nearest public nursery, either Google it or try phoning your local council office for more details.
  • If you work for a large company, sometimes the employer will provide nursery facilities for their staff. This can be of a huge advantage to both employer and employee, especially as they are often run at reduced costs.
  • All nurseries must be registered with the Office for Standards in Education. They are also inspected by them too.
  • Staff that work in nurseries will either be studying or already hold certificates in childcare.
  • All staff that work with children in England under the age of 16 are subject to a CRB check.
  • A preschool is more about education and preparing your child for school.
  • This is the better option to go for if you want to prepare your child for a structured environment. There will be lessons that will prepare your child for when they attend school.
  • The age in which children tend to start preschool is a lot older of that compared to a nursery. Our local preschool took our son from the age of two and a half but this was due to the fact that his birthday falls in July. You would have to check with the nursery you are considering with reference to starting age.
  • There will be a waiting list for a preschool due their popularity. Some parents register their child from as young as six months.
  • The hours of a preschool can vary. Most will do a morning, afternoon or an all day shift but please check. What will be the same is that all preschools are term time only. Some preschools do summer school
  • Once again, Staff that work in a preschool will either be studying or already hold certificates in childcare or early childhood education. All staff that work with children in England under the age of 16 are subject to a CRB check.
  • It is also worth checking policies and procedures before you start your child at preschool or nursery as these will differ from one establishment to the other. If your child is staying for lunch, it might be worth asking what your child is and isn’t allowed in their lunch box.
RELATED:  Fine for Taking Child out of School


Useful Websites

  • Your local preschool or nursery will need to be inspected by OFSTED. It is always worth checking out their inspection results before you decide to send your child to the preschool or nursery of your choice. You can do so by using this OFSTED search tool.
  • To find your nearest preschool, you can use this one of many search tools.
  • If you need advice with funding for preschool or nursery, this government site will help with your question.
  • If you are interested in working within the early years sector, then you may want to consider job opportunities at preschools or nurseries.



This post is based on my experience only and not intended as professional advice.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *