Raising children in Ireland

Childcare and pre-primary education in Ireland
Updated 2020-01-21 13:39

For children in Ireland, it is mandatory that they attend school from the ages of 6 up until they are 16 years old. For those children younger than six years old, you may have to find a childcare arrangement. There are a number of different options available to you.

The Irish education system

Legally, kids that are six years old need to be enrolled in school, with many of them starting when they are 4 or 5 years old. A lot of kids younger than five will go to the likes of Montessori nurseries or daycares. This is particularly the case if the sole parent or both parents are working full-time.

Primary school will generally last from 9 am until 1:30 pm when the children are between 6 and 9 years old. Most primary schools will thereafter finish at 2:30 pm. 

After completing eight years of primary school, children will then proceed onto the secondary school system for a further six years. 

Types of childcare services in Ireland

Group daycare is suitable for your kid if you want them to have a schedule and to engage in some activities. There will be a number of adults looking after a group of children. You can choose smaller groups if you prefer, and some of these services will even have drop-off and pick-up services. 

If you only need care on certain days, then there are drop-in groups which are normally for play and allow you to get a few hours to yourself on certain days. These are popular in the likes of shopping malls.

You can go for individual care, on a one to one basis. This could be childminder or a nanny or au pair. Nannies will usually come to your home whereas au pairs usually live in your house. Individual care options are generally more expensive, but if you have a few children that need looking after, then it could be cost-effective. 

Extra-curricular activities in Ireland

Some childcare centres will have different types of activities on offer. Some will also have specialisations. For example, certain daycares will be Irish language facilities where only the native tongue is spoken. Some daycare groups will learn basics such as the alphabet and songs, whereas others will bake, draw and paint. 

Enrollment procedures in Ireland

It is a good idea to conduct sufficient research to determine which groups would be best for your needs. The demand for certain facilities can be high, so you will need to book well in advance if you are to get a place for your child. 

For most preschools and early childcare in Ireland, you will need to provide a copy of your child's passport or birth certificate and PPS number. If your child needs additional support, perhaps some form of special needs, you will need to make an application through the Pobal website's Programs Implementation Platform (PIP). The application process is open throughout the year. 


In terms of costs for the various types of daycares and childminders, you can find a detailed breakdown of these costs here

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