So you’re looking to view nurseries and would like to know what sort of questions you should be asking?
For many parents this is the first time they have had to consider childcare and haven’t a clue as to what to expect or even understand what they need to know when choosing the right the setting. With over 10,000 Day Nurseries offering childcare services in the UK, there are certainly a lot of options available for parents. They vary greatly in terms of costs, availability and flexibility.
When choosing a Nursery, it is important to make sure that investigate your options thoroughly. Research as much as you can about the installations, their teaching methods and make sure that they meet your childcare expectations.
There are a number of practical factors to consider when weighing up the options for childcare and we have put together an easy guide of what to look for when viewing a nursery and the sort of questions you will need to ask so that you will know whether it is the right setting for both you and your little one.
What to look for on your viewing – Have a good look around to get a feel for how the Nursery works. A good nursery should be clean, tidy and organised. Rubbish should be safely put away and the building must be sufficiently heated, or ventilated. Take a look at the quality of the materials on offer for your child to play with and the condition.
- Do the children look well-stimulated, sitting down at activities, engaged by the staff?
- Are they happy?
- If children are unhappy, are they being comforted?
- Does the building look well-kept, safe and secure?
- Are the toilets and changing areas clean?
- Where do the children sleep? (Check to see they have clean sheets and ask if each child has their own?)
- Where do the children eat?
- Does indoor and outdoor equipment appear of good quality?
- Do you have confidence that the nursery manager possesses strong leadership skills, is well involved and has a ‘hands on’ approach?
Staff – You can often tell how good a Day Nursery is just by observing the staff with the children, to see if they engage actively with them and seem happy in their jobs. Nursery staff should be welcoming, willing to talk to you and your child openly and share your general views on discipline, and other issues related to childcare.
You should be looking for no less than
- 0-2 yrs = 1 Staff : 3 Babies
- 2-3yrs = 1 Staff : 4 Children
- 3-5yrs = 1 Staff : 8 Children
You are looking for the key worker to be qualified with suitable experience with that age group.
- What is their staff to child ratio?
- How long has the key carer been with the nursery?
- Are they fully qualified?
You are generally looking for how easy it is for a child to walk out of the nursery. Is the door handle low enough for a child to open it? Are they missing fence panels in the outdoor garden area? Do they have locks on gates leading to the front drive or road? How easy is it for a stranger to walk into the nursery?
- What security features do they have? i.e CCTV, Finger Print Entry System etc
- What happens if you are running late?
- What happens when you need someone else to collect your child?
- What happens in an emergency?
Ask to see a copy of a menu if they provide meals. This will give you an idea of the kind of food that is served. You should be looking to see if there is a variety of healthy choices such as fresh fruit and vegetables.
- Who prepares the meals? I.e. cook, outside caterers?
- Do you cater for dietary requirements? If your child is vegetarian or allergic to any foods, now is a good time to see if they cater for them.
- What happens if my child does not like what is offered?
- What happens if my child refuses to eat? You would be looking to see what they would do encourage them or how long they would leave it before notifying you.
What will my child need?
- Do I need to provide nappies and wipes?
- Do I need to bring Milk?
- What age do they offer food from their menu?
- Will I need to provide bedding? (Sheets)
- How many spare clothes should you provide?
- If you will walk to nursery you will need to ask if they store pushchairs.
- Do they store car seats?(if you need to leave for someone else collecting on the evening)
- You will need to know how much it costs for the days you are looking for
- Are there any deposits? Is it refundable?
- Is there any administration charges?
- Do they charge for bank holidays? (usually nurseries do charge)
- Do they give you any holiday leave? (Do they offer you any weeks free?)
- Do you pay for closures during Christmas, Easter etc?
It would be a good idea to find out how much notice is required should you wish to leave?
There are many Pro’s and Con’s to a nursery, but the best advice when choosing the right one is to take care when considering your options and always view more than one nursery, even if the first nursery you look around is the one you fall in love with!
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