I am not sure if I should send my 18 month-old child to full-day or half-day childcare. What are the considerations when making such a decision?
A few questions to start with:
One of the most crucial and easiest factors to consider is whether you have a caregiver to take care of your child. If you do, then you can move on to consider other factors in deciding which programme suits your child.
Since you know your child well, you may know how well your child can transition into a full-day or half-day programme. If your child usually loves to interact with people in any setting, be it familiar or unfamiliar, they may transition into the programme much faster, and therefore putting your child in a longer programme may not stress your child too much. Having your child settling happily in a programme is most important. If you foresee the possibility of your child being stressed by the initial school experience, you may want to consider putting your child in a half-day programme first. If your main purpose is to enrol them into a full-day programme, then once they are familiar with the teachers and routine of school, you can then move them into a full-day programme. I would suggest that you best speak to the teachers to get advice on when is the best time to transition them into the full-day programme.
If your child has attended enrichment programmes, even if there were accompanied programmes, they may adapt to separation anxiety much quicker and therefore you can consider putting them in either of the programmes.
Usually the parents want their child to learn self-help skills and gain independence. Being enrolled in a full-day programme, the child is given more opportunities and time to learn how to feed themselves, eventually dressing themselves (bath time), etc. There is also more time to interact and work with peers in a full-day programme and therefore children get more opportunities to develop their social and emotional skills.
Although the core learning subjects are usually taught in the first half of the day, some centres offer enrichment programmes in the afternoon. This allows the parents more time to spend with their children over the weekends as they do not have to bring them to further enrichment programmes as the school may have already provided that.
Ideally, if possible, to make the school transition for an 18-month old a happy and smooth one, enrolling in a half day programme first and then extending to a full-day programme once they are ready can make the school experience a stress-free and enriching one for both yourself and your child.
Principal of Chiltern House Preschool