An au-pair cares for a single child or several children at their home for weeks or months. Apart from assisting with child care and housework, the typical au-pair also attends a language course. The au-pair lives in the family home.
A baby-sitter cares for a child (or children) at their home, typically for a certain amount of hours as negotiated between the parents and the sitter. The service may be provided on a regular basis or on-call. Many regions offer baby-sitter exchanges. The Swiss Red Cross offers training courses for aspiring baby-sitters.
Childcare offerings for the school holidays differ depending on the canton. Some offer holiday camps and playschemes. Playscheme participants join a large group of mixed-age school children whose supervised activities are centered at the place of residence or close to it. Attendance is on a weekly basis and children spend their nights at home. The term “Tagesferien” (day-time holiday) is particular to Basel, while a similar expression, “Ferieninsel” (holiday island) is used in the canton of Berne.
During school holidays, some day-care facilities and complementary day-care providers/day schools also accomodate children not enrolled in their facilities. In addition, various organisations offer special clubs, camps and educational activities during holiday periods.
Childcare is provided during the daytime at the parents’ house or apartment. The nanny spends previously arranged time periods at the child(dren)’s household. The child(ren)’s family and the nanny sign an employment contract (including social security dues, etc.) The employment contract also specifies the caregiving times based on mutual agreement.
This term is not precisely defined. Typically, it is applied to either a day-care facility, a nursery school, or a complementary day-care facility.
A children’s home is a facility where children live permanently. School-age children usually attend school, either on or off-site.
Childcare in a children’s home is provided as permanent care – just like in a foster family. Both of these types of childcare differ considerably from day-care and are subject to a different set of legal provisions.
In some cantons this service is known as “Kinderhort” or simply “Hort”, other cantons label it “Tagesstrukturen” oder “Tagesschulen”. The service provides day-care, including meals, for pre-school to primary/elementary school children as a complement to regular school classes.
A day-care centre provides professional care for children from baby to age 4. Occasionally, it also accomodates pre- and primary/elementary school children. Trained personnel provides full- or half-day care including educational activities suited to the children’s ages. Activities alternate with free play and rest periods. Children are served breakfast, lunch and snacks. The terms “Kindertagesstätte”, “Kinderkrippe” or “Tagesheim” are used synonymously in most of Switzerland.
A foster care family provides care for a child or children around the clock. Foster care is supervised by local authorities and is a type of permanent care not to be confused or compared with day-care. Care by a foster family is subject to an entirely different set of legal provisions in contrast to daytime care.
Playgroups provide care for pre-schoolers – typically from age 3 until they enter pre-school (Kindergarten). Activities are tailored to the children’s age, supporting and promoting their social skills and, in some cases specifically their early language skills. Caregivers play, do handicrafts and sing with the children. A recent trend are “themed” playgroups, such as forest playgroups, nature and motion playgroups, English-speaking playgroups, sports playgroups, painting and handicraft playgroups. Some playgroups offer lunch meals.
Facility providing day-care, including meals, for pre-schoolers aged 4 to 6 years.
A child minder cares for one or more child(ren) at her home for full or half days and, exceptionally, overnight. Frequently, the childminder has children of her own.
The term „Tagesschule“ is not used consistently. The Swiss Federation for school-affiliated day-care defines two major concepts: Affiliated vs. modular day school/complementary day-care.
In an affiliated day school, pupils are required to attend classes and care activities within the specified schedule, usually covering the time between 8 a.m. to 16 p.m., with Wednesday afternoons being optional. Both, the curriculum and the care services are governed by a consistent educational concept.
In a modular day school/complementary day-care, pupils may select which care activities they attend in addition to regular classes. Activities offered may or may not follow an educational concept. Any given concept is particular to just the activity offered. Day schools or complementary day-care are offered by both, public and private institutions.
For children aged 4 to 10 years, complementary day-care – frequently also called day-school – provides an environment where they can eat, play, learn, practice and spend time together. Complementary day-care consists of modular blocks arranged around a school’s class schedule. Modules may be booked separately and individually. A lunch meal is an integral part of the care package as is the professional personnel. Children may do their homework, spent their leisure time with peers and receive a lunch meal and snacks. Increasingly, complementary day-care providers also offer full-day holiday care, too.
A male child minder caring for one or more child(ren) at his home for full or half days and, exceptionally, overnight. Frequently, the childminder has children of his own.
Nature is their playground. Forest playgroups have no walls, no doors, no roof. Instead they have unlimited space and an abundance of natural playing material.
Forest/outdoor playgroups follow the same guidelines as their indoor equivalents. Out of safety considerations two educators per group are recommendend, even three, if the group size exceeds eight children. As a rule, supervisors of forest/outdoor playgroups have completed specialized training in addition to their basic professional training.