How did you spend the Easter break? Was your family in one of the 100,000 cars gridlocked on the motorway?

Either en route to the airport or UK holiday the other side the country.

And with each increasingly fraught minute stuck in the car with bored children and just a couple well-played story tapes, did you start to think longingly of your own home?

But, then, we're doing for the children, aren't we?

Or are we? Isn't it possible they might also prefer holiday that doesn't start and end with traffic jams and airport delays?

So, what are the options?

Well, for a start, there are holiday playschemes, which operate in the main school holidays.

They provide excellent value for money and are run by experienced playworkers parents, volunteers and professionals, attended playschemes themselves and want to help the next generation have fun, try new experiences and make friends.

While it is a cliche that children need to socialise, it is, like most cliches, based on fact.

Even the most stunning setting offers scant compensation when there aren't any children to play with.

The beauty of your local holiday playscheme is that your child will see at least one or two familiar faces and, by the end of the holiday, will have found a friend for life (or at least for the next week).

So, what's on offer? The schemes are enormously diverse and it is no exaggeration to say all tastes are catered for.

Playschemes that are linked to the long-established after-school clubs usually operate from the same premises and offer a tried and tested, well-resourced package: Everything from jewellery-making, clay-modelling, painting and cookery to playground games and football.

Reassuringly for parents, playschemes are also safe places in which to entrust your children. Not only are all playworkers checked by the police but there are more adults supervising than in your child's school.

For example, in the case of under-eights, the major age group attending playschemes, there is one adult for every eight children.

On top of that, playschemes providing more than a handful of sessions for under-eights must register with Ofsted and comply with national standards of care covering everything from health and safety to child protection.

The schemes are also diverse in terms of opening times.

There are some all-day schemes that fit in with parents'

working hours as well as schemes operating for just a few hours a week, where the aim is purely to provide a bit of fun while encouraging new friendships and building confidence.

To identify a playscheme for your child, a good start is to ask about the arrangements at your child's school.

The next step, if you live in Brighton and Hove, is to ring Brighton And Hove Childcare Information Service on 01273 293545 or visit

For details of playschemes in East Sussex with the exception of Brighton and Hove, ring Kites Childcare Information on 01323 737294.