There are a number of options when it comes to childcare. There are centre-based options such as preschools and creches and there are home-based options such as childminders.

Fulltime Day Care:

Full day care is where an early years service offers a structured day care service for children for more than 5 hours per day; and which may include a sessional pre-school service for pre-school children not attending the full day care service.

Typically, premises offering full day care each will have the following rooms e.g., baby room, wobbler room, toddler room, pre-preschool room, preschool room, afterschool room. Your child will be assigned a room depending on their age, stage of development and individual ability.

Part Time Day Care:

Part time day care is where an early years service offering a structured day care service for children for a total of more than 3.5 hours and less than 5 hours per day, and which may include a sessional pre-school service. The service must provide the same physical environment, including rest, play and sanitary facilities, as for full day care. Services covered by the above definition of part time daycare may include pre-schools, playgroups, crèches, montessori pre-schools, naíonraí, registered childminders or similar services which generally cater for pre-school children in the 0-6 year age bracket.

Sessional Care:

A Sessional pre-school service means a pre-school service offering a planned programme to pre-school children for a total of not more than 3.5 hours per session.

Drop in care:

A pre-school service in a drop-in centre refers to a service where a pre-school child is cared for over a period of not more than two hours while the parent or guardian is availing of a service or attending an event. Such services are mainly located in shopping centres, leisure centres or other establishments as part of customer/client service.
A pre-school service in a temporary drop-in centre refers to a service where a pre-school child is cared for while the parent or guardian is attending a once-off event such as a conference or a sports event.

School Age Childcare (SAC):

SAC refers to the care of primary school going children, after school ends or before school starts. SAC usually incorporates the provision of a snack/hot meal and in some cases supervised time to complete some homework. There is often an option to attend SAC on a full-time basis outside of the school term.


Childminders provide a Childcare service in the childminders own home and are self-employed. This service is offered for the full working day or for different periods during the day. A childminder (a person who provides a childminding service) should look after not more than 5 pre-school children (0-6 years) including her own pre-school children.

Childminders who mind 4 or more preschool children or who mind 7 or more school age children or a mix of both, must notify themselves to TUSLA The Child and Family Agency and are subject to inspections under the Child Care (Pre-School Services) (No 2) Regulations 2006 and Child Care (Pre-School Services) (No 2) (Amendment) Regulations 2006. For more information on Childminding please visit our dedicated Childminding page.

Please see the following booklet ‘Choosing a Childminder’ which provides information to parents when looking for a childminder.

Curricular Approaches Typically found in the Early Years

Play based approach:

Many early years services offer a play based curricular approach to children’s learning and development. It could be argued however that many do not see the value of children’s play and the wonderful opportunities it provides for exploration, discovery and learning. When you look at the concept of play as a curricular approach more closely, it is genius really as you are using the thing children like to do the most in the whole world, and using it to support and extend their learning and development. By the age of six, in most cases children’s brains are approximately 90% of their adult size; this suggests that supporting children to learn and develop in their early years is more effective than intervening when the brain is fully developed. For example, have you ever noticed how easy and naturally occurring it is for the under 6’s to pick up a second language, while us adults struggle?!

Research also highlights that children learn best when they are actively involved in something and when they are, most importantly, interested in it. Because of this, ‘play based approaches’ are being recognised as one of the best ways to support early learning. Think about it! As a 3-year-old do you think it would be more fun to go out in the garden with a jar and find bugs (and put them back of course!), rather than sitting in a circle and looking at a book that talks about bugs?

A play-based philosophy harnesses the fun parts, to build the learning parts. How do you do that? Simple! The early years practitioner comes with an in-depth knowledge of play and then gets to know the children in their care so well that they know what interests them, what they like to play and who they like to play with. The practitioner uses all this expert knowledge to build their play-based curriculum. They have help too! Ireland’s first early years curriculum framework called Aistear is based on a play-based philosophy. This framework was launched in 2009 and covers 0-6 years…right up to infant classes in Primary school. The Aistear Siolta Practice Guide has a range of resources for parents. Why not check it out here.


Caters for children from 3 to 5 years of age typically. Montessori was named after its founder Maria Montessori in the early nineteen hundreds. Montessori had a particular philosophy or approach to the early education of children which was based on her own observations of children and how they learn. Montessori services follow this philosophy today. Montessori emphasised learning through all five senses in a ‘prepared environment’ in which children are free to choose their own activities. An important belief of the Montessori method is that children learn individually at their own pace and according to their own choice of activities.


In a Naionra service children play and learn through the Irish language, under the guidance of highly proficient Irish speaking staff. Children usually attend a Naoinra service from ages 3-5 years.

High Scope Childcare:

High Scope is another approach or philosophy of early education. Centered on the ‘plan-do-review’ philosophy, the High Scope approach firmly believes in children learning through socializing and through active, hands on experiences with their peers and guiding adults. Children are encouraged to plan their activities, carry them out and review how they went. Competencies which promote the development of thinking skills and concrete learning experiences.


WxCCC are available to offer support, provide guidance and signposting to parents. Contact the office 053 9237156