Types of childcare

There are different types of childcare to suit different needs.

Think about what you want and need from childcare and what would best suit your needs. For example:

  • do you need childcare in the evening, early morning or at the weekend? 
  • will you need additional childcare for school age children during school holidays?
  • what times will you need childcare for?
  • where do you want your childcare to be – near your workplace, home, place of study or near your child’s school?
  • what sort of environment will be best for your child – someone else’s home, a shared building or a purpose-built facility?

Many parents can find suitable childcare as soon as they need it, but for others it may take some time before you can find somewhere that suits both your own and your child's needs.

All childcare settings for children under five have to follow the government's Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS)


Childminders offer a flexible childcare service, which can accommodate unsociable working hours and out-of-school care in a home environment. Some childminders work with assistants.

They offer continuity of care by one familiar adult, and if you have siblings of different ages the childminder may be able to care for them all together. Childminders are often able to collect and drop-off at pre-school or school.


A pre-school is an early years setting where young children under statutory school age have the opportunity to learn through play. They are also sometimes known as playgroups. Pre-schools or playgroups are aimed at children aged two to five years.

They offer sessional care, for example mornings or afternoons with a break at lunch time and offer sessions of between 2.5 and 4 hours in term time. Most pre-schools offer 15 hours a week funded early learning for two, three and four year olds and some can offer up to 30 hours.  You can access funded early learning at pre-schools and playgroups.

Pre-schools are often run from community venues such as village halls.

Day nurseries

Nurseries offer full day care, all year round. Opening hours vary but are usually from 8am to 6pm.  Nurseries care for children aged from birth to five.

Nurseries tend to be organised around the ages of children, and will often be split into rooms for different aged children. Each room will have a lead staff member, and the staff team will tend to remain with the same children.

Nurseries can be privately owned or run by the local authority. You can access 15 hours and 30 hours of free early education per week at nurseries.

School nursery classes

A school nursery class provides early education for children aged between two and four.

Nursery classes are attached to a primary school and are open during school hours, offering full or half-day sessions. Children can start in the September following their third birthday (although some accept children throughout the year depending on numbers).

Attending a school nursery does not guarantee a place at the school.

Out-of-school and holiday childcare

Out-of-school care includes breakfast clubs, after school sessions and holiday care.

Holiday playschemes are planned activities for children during school holidays. They offer a variety of activities with an emphasis on physical activity and play.

Holiday playschemes have to be registered with Ofsted if:

  • they provide care for more than 2 hours in one day and more than 5 days a year
  • they provide care for children aged eight or under

Some of the schemes only run for a short period, for one or two weeks and only a few hours a day, but there are many that provide full time cover during the school holidays.

Children with additional needs

If your child has special educational needs and you are looking for holiday childcare for this year, you can search our local offer on the North Somerset online directory.