A few questions to ask yourselves when choosing a nursery from my experience as a daycare Manager and a parent are-
Top Tips 1 – 5
1. Ofsted Registration
Most parents look at the Ofsted registration right away when they choose a nursery.
You should check the nursery’s Ofsted registration certificate along with a certificate of insurance. Also, read their most recent Ofsted report beforehand and challenge the nursery with questions on any improvements made after their inspection. See for yourself if their explanations match the practice you see.
2. Visit the Nursery
Visit the nursery and consider some of the following points below when choosing:-
- Do you feel warm and welcome when entering? Have a look at the details whilst walking around.
- Do the activities offered to the children look inviting? Do they offer the children awe and wonder and not a pile of plastic toys set out on the table?
- If English is an additional language, how will they support this?
- Is the setting cluttered or organised, showing they respect and care for their environment as the third person?
- Has the setting got high expectations for their children?
- How do the staff interact and speak with the children whilst engaging with them?
- How will they nurture and protect my child whilst in my absence?
- Can you see children’s work displayed and not the staff’s perfect artwork on the wall?
- How are the children interacting with each other are they encouraged to achieve their milestones, and do the staff go above & beyond to achieve this?
Is the food fresh, and is there a varied menu to ensure a healthy variety of foods is offered? How does the nursery deal with fussy eaters? Can they cater for special diets such as Dairy-free, Vegan, and Gluten-Free?
4. Is your child happy?
How do the children act within the nursery? Are they happy? Are they engaged? Are the staff encouraging conversation and not just sitting quietly next to the children? What are the ratios in the room? Is it the same staff daily caring for my child? What does my child’s keyworker do differently from any other staff in the room?
5. Are the staff happy?
Are the staff happy, relaxed, well presented, and confident, and is the environment calm? What are the qualifications of the staff and how much experience do they have? Ask if they’re trained in Paediatric First Aid to give your child medicines, inhalers, etc what are the usual illnesses when first starting a nursery and your policies around them?
Top Tips 6 – 10
6. Holidays & Sickness
What is their policy around holidays and sickness or bank holidays, do they charge? How much notice if any do they require when you leave?
7. Costs & Availability
What are the costs and sessions available? Do they require a deposit? Can they adapt to your working hours or variable working shift patterns? What does the cost include? Do they accept free government funding, and what sessions do they offer?
8. Provisions & Policies
What provisions are there for activities, potty training, emergency procedures, discipline & other nursery policies?
How do they settle your child into the Nursery, and do they keep you updated on the transition? What happens if your child is struggling with the separation or language barrier how will they support this?
10. Get Recommendations!
Speak to friends and family! Word-of-mouth recommendations are always a good start. If possible, look at thank you notes as well as the testimonials on websites.