How to choose a nursery for your child
One of the biggest concerns for parents as their children get older is finding top-quality childcare. These days many parents choose to return to work once their son or daughter is old enough to attend nursery, and it’s also a fantastic chance for children to socialise with other kids in addition to learning and exploring creative new hobbies.
Of course, sending your son or daughter off to nursery for the first time can be a bit daunting for both parents and children. In order to make the experience easier, you want to make sure that you choose the very best childcare centre for your little one. Yet, this choice in itself can feel like a tough decision, especially if you live in an area with lots of locations to pick between. To help you out, here are some tips for what to do and the sort of factors to bear in mind when making the choice.
If you have a large number of potential nurseries available to you, the best starting point is to make a list of the factors that you absolutely need to have. That way you can narrow down your options to a more manageable number. The sort of issues that you want to consider at this point include:
- The times of day and days of the week that the nursery is open. If these don’t match up with your requirements, there’s no point in considering that facility.
- The cost. You want to be sure that the place you choose is within your budget. You might be tempted to stretch this if you fall in love with a more expensive nursery, but don’t commit to something that you won’t be able to afford. There are plenty of excellent quality and reasonably priced choices out there.
- The location of the nursery. Try and select somewhere that’s convenient for you to stop by on your way to and from work, or that’s close to home.
- Whether or not the nursery has room for your child.
Visit your favourites in person
Once you’ve narrowed down your list to a suitable selection of top quality nurseries and childcare facilities, you absolutely want to visit them in person before making your decision. This is the best way to get a feel for the atmosphere of the nursery, even if they’ve been recommended to you by a friend or family member. You know your child best, and only you can judge if they will be happy at a particular place.
A visit also gives you the opportunity to talk to the staff in person, and ask any specific questions that you might have about the facilities, activities, policies, or OFSTED reports. For instance, you might want to know about how they deal with bad behaviour, the ratio of staff to children, or what happens at mealtimes. If possible, try and chat with some parents who have children attending the nursery to get their honest feedback.
What to look out for during your visit
When you go to a nursery, there are lots of different factors that you want to assess while you’re there. For example, how are you and your child greeted when you arrive? Do the staff appear happy, attentive, and engaged with their work? What are the children doing? Here are some other issues to bear in mind:
- What are the premises like? You want to choose somewhere that is clean, safe and secure. Have a look at how much outside space is available and what it’s like, what the toilet facilities are like, and whether children have some space to keep their own belongings.
- Talk to the staff about the sorts of activities that the children engage in throughout the day. What sort of toys do they have to play with? What kind of creative hobbies can they try? Are there designated nap times or quiet times during the day?
- How do the children there seem? Are they happy and having fun? How do they interact with the staff and each other?
Once you’ve visited a few different places, you should hopefully be in a better position to choose your favourite. Remember, when your child first starts at nursery it might take a little while for them to settle into the new routine. Speak to the staff about how your son or daughter is getting on, and what you can do to help them feel more comfortable. Before you know it, they’ll be having the time of their life!