What to look for in a Nursery: Top Tips
Sending your little one off to nursery is a big day, for you as a parent, and for them too! So, choosing somewhere that you have confidence in as a parent will only help your little one feel the same as they step into a new environment and join in with the hustle and bustle of new friends playing and working.
First, check that the nursery you choose is registered with Ofsted (England). You can ask to read their report as this details the quality of the education and care provided, including the suitability of the equipment and facilities. If you can, bring your child along to the visit with you, if possible. When you first step into the school, the atmosphere should be ‘homely’ and welcoming.
We have put together a few tips and things to think about when choosing a nursery for your little one:
The environment itself should be appealing, clean, warm and light. For example, take a look at the wall displays. Ideally, there should be lots of drawings and paintings done by the children themselves, demonstrating that the nursery values and supports child creativity. Also, there might be an outside play space which should be safe and frequently used. The equipment that children use should be of good quality, clean, safe, and age-appropriate. The environment should be stimulating and engaging, too!
Depending on your circumstances, you may wish to know how flexible the nursery's hours are. Will they, for example, allow you to pick up and drop off your child at different times if your working hours change unexpectedly?
It is also important to observe the youngsters in the nursery. Do the children appear to be happy and well-occupied? Have a look around and see if there is a range of equipment used by the children. Staff should be involved in their play too, to support their personal, social and emotional development.
In order for children to grow and develop, it is critical that they learn about staying healthy and eating nutritious foods. For example, is the food fresh and is it also prepared daily? If your little one has a special diet, can they cater for them, and are the menus varied and nutritional? Do the staff promote independence and allow your child to access water or milk when they need it?
The people who might be looking after your child are extremely important. Are they relaxed, well-dressed, peaceful, and confident? Are all the staff trained in Paediatric First Aid, DBS verified, and reference checked? This information is sometimes found on the school website or in the Reception or entrance to the school.
A Key Person is someone who is assigned to your child to observe and track their well-being, learning and development. This is tracked alongside the Department for Education’s Statutory Framework and Early Years Foundation Stage. In addition, their role is to be your main contact and to inform you of your little one’s day-to-day care. You might want to know if you receive feedback verbally every week, or in the form of an app or written book.
The school may offer different extra activities that your little one can take part in. You might want to know what these are, what they involve, and when, and if there is a fee.
If your little one is not yet potty trained, you are entitled to ask what their procedures are for that, and in case you need to pack extra clothes and baby wipes in their school bag. You can ask about their emergency procedures, and how they deal with discipline. This is an important question to ask, as ideally, sticking to the same form of discipline for your child is ideal as it provides them with consistency and knowing where they stand in different situations.
Your experience of the visit
Think about if you and your little one enjoyed the visit. You might have been offered another visit, and or a trial session to attend to see how your little one finds it.
It is important to feel confident in the school that you have chosen as that is where your little one will experience a new chapter in their life.
Recommendations and testimonials
When selecting a nursery, check with friends and family; personal recommendations are a great place to start. Look at thank you messages and website testimonials if possible.
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