Selecting the right nursery for your child is really important to ensuring your child is getting the right care and support through their early years.
Hungry Caterpillars have put together some great tips on how to choose the nursery that’s right for you and your child.
Where to start – doing your research
There are many different types of nurseries to choose from, large ones, smaller ones, nurseries owned by national corporations, smaller independent nurseries, council-run nurseries and nurseries that may be affiliated to local schools. The one that’s right will depend on you and your family’s circumstances and preference.
1. Recommendation from family and friends is probably going to be really useful but just because they recommend a nursery it doesn’t mean it is going to work for you and your child.
2. Search engines are the easiest way to find nurseries based on their location. Start by looking at the nurseries that are closest to your home or work, think about where would be the most practical location and what would work best for you.
3. Take a look at the nursery website to get a better feel about their standards of care and education. They should include their most recent Ofsted report, their aims and values and testimonials from other parents. The inspection report will highlight where the nursery has excelled and any actions or recommendations that they need to work on so this might be a good starting point.
6. Another avenue to explore are the nurseries social media sites. Many nurseries and childcare providers will have a Facebook, Twitter and a Google + page. You may find other parents have left reviews (good and bad) and you will also get a feel about how the nursery functions and operates.
Compare each nursery
One you have shortlisted the nurseries, contact each one and ask them for some information to be sent to you either by post or email. Most nurseries will have a prospectus or brochure they can send out to you which details everything you need to know, i.e. structure, policies, fees etc… This will then allow you to compare each nursery and put together some questions that you might like to ask them.
A good quality nursery will have an open door policy which allows parents to drop in, unannounced. Some nurseries will go beyond just letting you in and visiting your child, they will encourage you to help with activities or outings.
Nurseries should have clearly established policies and procedures for everything from opening and closing times to dealing with emergencies. They will also have health and safety guidelines and a strict illness policy so you can see that the nursery takes the responsibility of caring for your child seriously.
Plan a visit
You should always visit more than one nursery before you make a decision about where you wish to place your child. By visiting the nurseries you will get a better understanding on the variety of nurseries that are available, some will suit you and your child’s individual needs more than others. We recommend taking your child with you on the visits so you can see how they respond to each nursery.
At your visit
When you first arrive at the nursery for your appointment you should take note of the following things:
• Is there a dedicated parking area for you to take and pick your child up
• Do they have a safe and secure system when answering the door
• Does the nursery meet your expectations i.e. are staff friendly, are the children happy and is the environment clean and tidy
You should find out what types of activities they provide. This might include imaginative play, reading, outdoor activities, painting, drawing, puzzles. All day nurseries have to follow the early years foundation stage (EYFS). This provides a structure of learning and care for children depending on your child’s age.
Olivia Foley, Director and Founder of Hungry Caterpillar Day Nurseries suggests the following when weighing up your options.
“As a parent myself, I know how emotive finding the right childcare is for parents. It’s a massive decision and getting it right is essential. My advice is to look at 3 or 4 nurseries before making your mind up. Make sure you ask all the questions that are important to you and the care of your child. Talk to the staff, they are the people that will be caring for your child each day so it’s important that you are able to build a relationship with them and they have right attitude. Once you have visited the nursery, spent time with the manager and staff and seen and asked all the relevant questions, I would recommend that you trust your instincts. If it feels right it probably is.”