Sometimes, the six week break during July and August can be likened to a military operation with a mammoth juggling of schedules and diaries. Summer plans often draw on a complex combination of annual parental leave; a family holiday; childcare help and favours from family, friends or neighbours, as well as organised structured childcare.
If you’re considering formal childcare in the shape of clubs, courses and classes, there are few things to think over first…
Check the credentials of your Childcare Provider
Check that staff are appropriately disclosure checked and possess the necessary qualifications to teach children before booking your childcare. Look for operators who are Ofsted registered, and if the childcare is sport-related, that they are members of the British Activity Providers Association - www.thebapa.org.uk - as they are subject to a thorough independent inspection scheme.
Help with childcare costs
The government is introducing new ways to help parents with childcare costs. You can get government help paying for childcare if it’s provided by a registered childminder, playscheme, nursery or club; a childminder with an Ofsted-registered childminding agency; a registered school; or a home careworker working for a registered home care agency.
For working parents, extra help with childcare costs is available through the childcare element of Working Tax Credit. It offers up to 70% of the childcare costs, up to a maximum of £122.50 per week for one child and £210 for two or more children.
If your employer offers childcare vouchers, you can get up to £933 a year in tax and National Insurance savings. The amount you’ll get depends on your earnings. Childcare vouchers from your employer may affect the amount of tax credits you get. There is a calculator on the government’s website which can help you decide if you would be better off taking childcare vouchers or not. Visit www.gov.uk/childcare-vouchers-better-off-calculator.
The government has launched a new interactive website designed to help parents consider all options connected to childcare costs. Take a look - www.childcarechoices.gov.uk
Book your childcare now!
Usually the best holiday clubs get booked up really quickly, so now is a good time to reserve a place at your child’s favourite club, class or course. Sometimes there’s savings to be made by planning ahead too with some holiday clubs offering early bird deals.
Types of summer childcare
The long summer break can give children an opportunity to learn a new skill or enjoy a favourite hobby such as cricket, dance or arts and crafts. Here are some of the options open to your child…
Digital and coding activities are fast-becoming a number one pastime for many kids. Writing code to make robots move and to make shapes dance across a computer screen is a fully absorbing activity and is particularly suited to children who revel in a mental challenge. Good places to look for kids’ computer and coding courses are at the local libraries and community centres.
Indoor Activity Clubs
The increased demand for childcare over the last few years has seen a rise in innovative childcare options. Cookery classes, creative art workshops, animation courses, and reading and writing clubs now give children more opportunities to acquire a new set of skills. Contact your local arts centre for children’s arts and crafts courses.
Performing Arts Courses
Children are given an opportunity to embrace their ‘inner performer’ at one of the many stage schools that run courses in dance, drama or music during the school holidays. Often ending with a finale performance towards the latter part of the week, parents are able to witness first-hand the results of the hard-work.
From football to climbing, from tennis to swimming – there are so many sports courses on offer in the area. Many courses take place over consecutive days and are run by fully qualified coaches or instructors. Many sports and adventure-sport courses work towards an award or certificate, so each child is presented with a mark of achievement as well as benefiting from childcare.
Multi-activity Holiday Clubs
These non-residential full day and half-day courses are held at local venues, often sports centres. These clubs are desirable for many working parents due to their degree of convenience and flexibility, partly due to their location, and partly due to the early and late pick-up options that are sometimes offered. Structured to accommodate children mainly over the age of 8, group-based activities offer a taste of adventure, craft or physical exercise.
Many local authorities run holiday play schemes and, because many are subsidised by the local councils, they are often well priced.