Are my expectations of nursery too high?

(48 Posts)
Jefferson Thu 07-Nov-13 00:02:22

Having read the slightly scary thread currently in AIBU about nurseries, I'm feeling a bit depressed about DS being at nursery.

It's only been 2 months and I really don't know what is ok and what isn't. I know that there are a lot of kids and lots of paperwork and so it's hard to keep up but something is niggling me and I'm wondering if I am jut expecting too much.

Lunch is always accompanied by a really sweet dessert: angel delight, ice cream, swiss roll etc... Is that the norm? Will it be really stupid if I said I didn't want him to have this?

When I go to pick him up he's often dirty. I dot mean from playing. He will have food aroun his mouth for example. Are they just too busy to keep him clean?

They give me those daily report forms which they fill out as I put his coat on. Can they really remember what he did, ate and how much during the day if they only fill it in at te end? I wonder how honest they are about things like how much he slept.

Everytime I go to pick him up he's always just wandering the room rather than actively engaged in doing something. I know it's the end of the day so maybe that's just winding down time but the staff are tidying and the kids just sort of wander about

The staff are really young apart from the manager. Early 20's. Sometimes when I drop him off the kids are all eating breakfast an the staff (young girls) are having a loud chat and barely acknowledge us apart from a hello. Some of them also look bored whenever I see them!

It all sounds very very trivial but having read some of the horror stories on the other thread does this all sound ok or not...

ICameOnTheJitney Thu 07-Nov-13 00:13:17

No yanbu...this is not a good nursery! Go with your instincts...look for a new one. Your son should have clean face and he should be engaged. sad

Jefferson Thu 07-Nov-13 00:14:22

Oops this was meant to be in chat. No AIBU

That doesn't sound like a good nursery.

Jefferson Thu 07-Nov-13 00:15:59

Thanks Icameon

TerrorMeSue Thu 07-Nov-13 00:22:07

Nope, their standards are too low. I would be concerned and look elsewhere.

Mine the children are all met at the door. DD never has food around her mouth although she is frequently filthy from playing.

The food issue worries me, although I know all children aren't as unfussy as DD so they want something to go in.

I wouldn't be happy with your nursery.

BrianTheMole Thu 07-Nov-13 00:26:48

I wouldn't be happy with that either op. I'd look for another one, or a child minder

Where are you maybe people can suggest a good one.

BackforGood Thu 07-Nov-13 00:44:04

My general feel would be, if it doesn't "feel" right, then it probably isn't.

That said, if you want people to look at individual points......

I wouldn't be worried about them having a pudding - it's not going to harm him to have a small portion of pudding after his mains at lunchtime on Nursery days

Food around mouth, I would expect to be wiped, but I wouldn't be worried about spillages on jumpers, etc - it's what happens to small dc (sorry, not sure how old your dc is?)

Personally I think a daily report form is OTT, and can't see the point in them filling it out when you are there. Surely the point of having a form or daily diary is that they fill it in as the day progresses so they don't forget a detail that some parents might want? That said, I'd rather the staff were interacting with my child than filling in unnecessary paperwork all day.

Re the tidying - it kind of depends on the type of Nursery and the time of day, and if he's the last child to be collected, etc. The staff are likely to be on minimum wage and only paid until 6 - I don't blame them tidying away things if they know the child is to be collected in the next minute or two. Of course, if that's not the case, then it's a different story. The 'how much he engages' thing depends again on personality, his age, the number of hours he's been there, if he likes to snuggle down and share a book or not, etc.,etc.

It's the nature of the job that a lot of Nurseries are filled with very young staff members. Minimum wage is OK when you are very young, but once you get more responsibilities, it becomes less attractive once you realise the responsibility you have for the wage you are paid.

So - individually, none of those (apart from the not wiping faces perhaps) are anything unusual for Nurseries, but I still feel your instinct is a good starting point.
Why not go round a couple of other possibilities and see if you get similar vibes, now you have something to compare with ?

Willowbear Thu 07-Nov-13 00:45:49

It doesn't sound like their standards are very high.
Where i work almost all of our deserts are fruit based with the occasional exception eg ice cream once a month. If a parent doesn't want their child to have ice cream we would offer fresh fruit as an alternative.

Their is no excuse for having food around his mouth ( unless he has literally just finished eating) as they should be washing him straight away.

As for the daily reports, it makes more sense to fill them in throughout the day. I have a reasonable memory but there is no way i could acurately recall all of the relevent information eg sleep, nappies, milk intake, food for all of the children without it being written down.

Nurseries and staff like this really upset me because i care passionatly about my job and do my best to create a good nursery environment for all of the children, places like this give all nurseries a bad name.

MaryAnnTheDasher Thu 07-Nov-13 05:40:20

Personally I would not worry. I've had all of the exact same things occur to me about the nursery my children go to, particularly the roaming at the end of the day. I genuinely think it's cos it's the end of the day and they tend to let them do their own thing whilst clearing away / doing the admin etc. i've unexpectedly collected my children earlier in the day and it's always been very different with structured play and activities. Assuming you don't worry for the safety of your child when they're there , I would go by how content your child seems. For me that is all that matters. If they're happy/talk fondly about the staff/ appear to be generally ok with going in each day then I think it's enough. Maybe have a chat with some of the other parents? I did this when I was unsure about one of the girls at nursery and it did put myind at rest actually. Have to agree with you on the puddings though, but then I think to myself it's only pudding what's the worse that can happen plus it might make your dc feel a bit excluded if you put a stop to it.

LifeIsBetterInFlipFlops Thu 07-Nov-13 05:49:24

I chose DD's nursery by the feel of it - when we looked around there was a child on lots of the staffs laps, if I'm not there to give him a hug, I want someone else to. Also the staff were very engaged with the children, always playing with them, morning and evening.
Didn't have daily forms and I've no idea of the Ofsted rating - I just liked it and the staff.
Good luck sorting it out, you'll know when you've found the right one.

sandiy Thu 07-Nov-13 06:31:40

I was desperate once and sent my twins to the nearest nursery.Huge mistake! I never felt quite comfortable and hated sending them.They fed my nine month olds chopped up hot dogs ewwwww for lunch.I always used to get there early to collect and once my children were eating in high chairs while a little one was having a poo on the potty beside them.My daughter became so distressed than I once found her burrowed into a pile of teddies I tried 3-4 sessions and never went back.I think I lost money but I just did nt care.We found a local childminder where my daughters thrived.Go with your gut.

IrisWildthyme Thu 07-Nov-13 06:35:16

Go with your gut feeling. We used a nursery and it was nothing like you describe. Deserts usually fruit-based with minimal sugar, children clean, active and engaged, usually at home time begging to be allowed to stay because home is boring. Good ones do exist, start looking for a new one.

tomatoplantproject Thu 07-Nov-13 06:41:30

Dd is always clean although her clothes never are. Pudding is normally fruit and yoghurt unless they are having a special party tea. Her report sheets are usually filled in during the day - different handwriting and biros and quite frequently they will tell us the last little bits. Go with your gut - I know my baby gets lots of cuddles and attention. There are also a mix of age ranges of staff members so not all just young girls. I would withdraw her in a flash if I was concerned.

TwentiethCenturyGirl Thu 07-Nov-13 07:03:04

I don't think that sounds great.

DD always has a homemade pudding at nursery - sometime some sort of fruity cake but normally stewed fruit and custard or yoghurt. She often comes home with paint on her clothes but her face and hands are always clean.

Daysheets are always filled in in advance and often using different pens, which suggests they're done as and when. If her sleep hasn't been recorded, the her key worker goes and checks a chart on the wall an writes if down from that.

Yes, a lot of the staff are quite young but they always seem to be engaged with the children and always come over at drop off and pick up to find out how she is or tell me how she's been.

If your gut suggests something isn't right then look elsewhere.

Iris445 Thu 07-Nov-13 07:13:27

I left a similar nursery after a few months. It was staffed by 20 something's who didn't really care. I watched them a few times through the window and didn't like the look of it.

Trust your gut and move pronto.

janey68 Thu 07-Nov-13 07:14:57

I wouldn't be happy with it -and clearly your instinct is that it's not good, so follow that.

As others have said, some of the individual things aren't that significant in themselves but overall if you're not happy then I would look elsewhere

As someone else said, a sweet pudding now and then wouldn't bother me ; my children's nursery usually had yoghurts or Ice cream or home made Puds but there would be more sweet stuff now and then. But not daily

Follow your instincts and keep looking around and also use word of mouth recommendations

Also remember that the threads on MN are usually about extreme cases- the current one is again, about someone who once worked in a nursery which didn't follow good practice and is finally thinking of doing something about it. People tend not to post about their child's nursery when they are perfectly happy with it. Also, some people are just anti nursery full stop, and don't want to use them for their own children (which is fine, their choice) but they then tend to put a negative spin on nurseries generally

Tbh there are no doubt as many parents out there who have used nurseries they were really happy with and whose children thrived, so don't panic, keep it in perspective. There will always be some rubbish nurseries (and hospitals, schools, parents...) but it doesn't mean they all are

hardboiledpossum Thu 07-Nov-13 07:18:51

If staff are behaving like that when parents are around when I would be worried about how they behave when parents aren't around.

I used nurseries for eight years for my DCs. If your gut instinct is telling you that it's not right then listen to it.

SatinSandals Thu 07-Nov-13 07:32:46

Always go with your instincts.

Jefferson Thu 07-Nov-13 08:44:08

Thank you for all the responses wvery

Jefferson Thu 07-Nov-13 08:46:49

Thank you for all the responses everyone.
I wasn't sure if I was being PFB or not but most people are saying its not great and to go with my gut.
We don't have a lot of choices around here though.
I might start with asking for no puddings and if I see him dirty again I will raise that too.

No that doesn't sound good. DS has been to two nurseries, one better than the other but both were more professional than that. The better one he went to was amazing, I trusted them as much as I trust family.

jumperooo Thu 07-Nov-13 08:56:22

DD is usually a bit grubby (food) when I pick her up too. It does annoy me a bit, but I also know how much she hates having her face wiped clean. Perhaps I should say something to the nursery too

Twoandtwohalves Thu 07-Nov-13 08:57:27

Jefferson it can be so worrying leaving children at nursery. I would agree with pp that following your gut and gently (but assertively) raising things that bother you to see if they get resolved is worth doing, eg a sliding scale of "oh dear sweetie have you been so busy this afternoon there's not been time to wipe your mouth?", then directly to the key worker, to room leader, to nursery manager (in writing) to see if they get resolved. I'm in the 80/20 camp when it comes to food for DCs so if it's 80% wholesome I don't mind a few sweet things - they should make their whole menu available so see where those desserts fit in.

In the meantime, work in the background to see what your options are elsewhere, eg childminders used by friends. I was shocked by the youth of the staff when I started looking at nurseries as in my head they were all staffed by "grannies" but at DS1's nursery there is a decent mix with some of the more senior staff in their 30s with kids of their own who also use the setting.

pudseypie Thu 07-Nov-13 09:11:27

I think you know things aren't right and I would look at other options. My ds nursery keep him clean, puddings are varied but not full of sugar, and they write up the report at the end of the day but from clipboard sheets they've completed as the day has gone on. And I would expect the staff at your nursery to engage properly with the children.

notadoctor Thu 07-Nov-13 09:55:32

If at all possible - I'd second the suggestion of popping in at different times of the day to get a more accurate picture. Could you take a morning off one week and drop off late and then an afternoon off to pick up early? Is your LO talking yet? My DD learnt her key workers name really early and I took that as a good sign! I agree that you should trust your instincts and don't be disheartened - there are lots of fantastic nurseries out there, sometimes they just take a bit of finding! If you're really not happy with any local options might you consider a childminder?

TiggyD Thu 07-Nov-13 09:59:22

Sweet dessert - The sweet bit not so good. Children do need more carb, dairy and fat than grown ups (lucky things) but not sugar. A lot of parents I've known request non sweet puddings. It tends to lead to them being given fruit which means they miss out on a lot of what they need.

Dirty mouth is bad. It shows they're not that bothered about basic physical needs.

Report forms can be a pointless pain in the bum. It's useful to pass on basics like when babies had their bottle, sleep, etc in a written form, but all the rest of the info will be what a good nursery tells parents when they pick up. And they take ages to fill in because you have to do them around children playing. They normally get done at nap time after lunch meaning they don't deal with the afternoon activities.
And then the staff see the parents screw them up as they're leaving because they've already been told it all anyway.

Wandering round the room - depends when. If he's just seen 10 of his friends get picked up by their parents he probably has worked out that you're going to be there soon and is too excited to settle. The rest of the time it's a bad sign. There should be things done to keep the children interested and busy all day.

Staff tidying - Household cleaning should not be done around children. The staff are not counted as part of the ratio. But staff normally get paid until 6, with obvious consequences.

Staff all young - not usually good. Experience counts for a lot.

Staff all bored - definitely not good.

All things considered it sounds like you have a regular poor nursery. Not good but pretty common.

merrymouse Thu 07-Nov-13 10:02:32

Could you pop in at other times of day to get a feel for whether this is the general atmosphere? do you know other parents who pick up at different times? I think you are saying that you don't see much evidence of staff interacting with your child. This wouldn't be a problem for me at points in the day - children wander around aimlessly at home too. However, it shouldn't be your overall impression of the day.

pointyfangs Thu 07-Nov-13 10:29:47

This isn't a good nursery. My DDs went to a small, family-run nursery which was staffed by 20-somethings, but I never, ever found them chatting and ignoring the children. We were usually the first to arrive and as soon as we did, they would spring into action - lap time with a story to settle in, or some puzzles, or straight outside if it was a nice morning, but always with the staff heavily informed. They'd get filthy from playing but were always clean in the hygiene sense, and daily reports would be augmented by a verbal update for the last part of the day. They'd always be busy doing something when I picked them up, and no tidying up ever went on when I arrived for pickup - that was always done after last pickup (though the children were consistently encouraged to put away toys they had finished playing with, but that's different!)

Ihatepeas Thu 07-Nov-13 10:38:19

I worked in day nurseries for 15 years. My opinion..
Dirty face.. Not great but if it has only happen once can be forgiven in my opinion as I know how bonkers thing can get sometimes however if staff were all standing around chatting then little excuses really!
Sweet pudding.. Not ideal but pretty standered I would say, if it bothers you ask for an alternative.
Young staff.. If staff are good, age should make no difference IMO. Young staff is very common in nurseries due to low pay people tend to move on.. A mixture of ages is always best!!
Bored staff/not greating you when you arrive.. No excuses.. Not acceptable!
Forms.. Form should 100% be filled in throughout the day by his key worker (does he have a key worker?) they are a pain in the arse but part of the job that should be done correctly.. I would again let this slide if it's happened once or twice but every time.. Not good enough!
Wandering.. This is a tricky one, are you one of the last to collect? If so I would kind of expect the staff to be tidying some of the toys away. I would guess that the same toys had been out for a while and he was bored with the toys that's why he wasn't playing.. Not really great news. I would also expect there to be someone playing with the children not all staff tidying and children left to their own devises.

To conclude I would think this nursery doesn't sound great. I would trust your instincts. Speak to the manager or find another nursery/ childminder.

HTH. Good luck!

ifyourehoppyandyouknowit Thu 07-Nov-13 10:45:39

There are some things that would make me raise an eye brow or two. DS goes to a small nursery, it's a lot more relaxed than most nurseries my friends use so not sure it's the best example. I am not especially keen on the food served, just because there seems to be a lot of random combinations and they do have pudding (usually something and custard or mousse) after dinner, but it's fruit and yoghurt after lunch. The food does seem to have improved in the last month actually, I think the chef has bought a book on veggie curries and stews by the looks of it.

DS is always filthy when I pick him up. His hands and face are clean, but his hair and clothes are covered in paint/food/glue/glitter/dirt if they have been playing outside. I don't mind this because DS is an absolute filth hound. Kid could get dirty in a white padded room. When we pick him up the staff are usually tidying up or sweeping the floor etc, but they are engaging with the toddlers while they do it and the toddlers are 'helping'. He's always greeted on arrival, and goes off to have a cuddle with his favorite staff member whoever is making breakfast. He also always seems happy to go, doesn't like leaving and chatters about his little friends and his key worker etc. I think that's the big test; is your DS happy? And what does your instinct say? I would personally prefer it if DS' nursery didn't have a 'party tea' every time there was a special occasion/birthday etc (about once a month) where he seems to eat mainly sausage rolls, party rings and quiche, but in the big picture I let it go because he is thriving there, the staff are happy and seem to really enjoy their work, and engage with the babies/toddlers (they know all the kids by name even if they don't work in their room), and ultimately I trust them. Not sure if that helped!

waterrat Thu 07-Nov-13 11:28:00

You really really should trust your instinct. It's your child's care - don't compromise at all.

moldingsunbeams Thu 07-Nov-13 11:39:39

All the nurseries I have been in, even the crappiest ones have had face clothes we have used to wipe hands and faces after lunch.

I would expect children to be engaged in something even if staff are tidying.

Katiebeau Thu 07-Nov-13 11:44:12

Not a good nursery I'm afraid. YANBU

Dobbiesmum Thu 07-Nov-13 11:46:24

I would find the young staff to be concerning, a mixture of young and more experienced staff is a good mix for a nursery. What's the staff turnover like? That can give you a very good indication of what it's really like if you can find out.
Food round mouth, not good on a regular basis, they may be trying to teach the older ones to be more self sufficient by letting them clean their own faces but it should still be monitored.
Bored and chatting staff is really not good. Nurseries are busy places. I trained at one and worked in another and there was always something to do or children to play with!
Tidying up time is a bit of a nightmare point iirc, but there should still be play opportunities for the children.
I would be concerned, YANBU.

DD's nursery do give sweet puddings (at lunch only; fruit for supper) but to be honest, she doesn't get them much at home and she's only there 3 days a week anyway so it doesn't bother me too much.

I don't get given a written report; I get told what she's been up to and I prefer that to them spending time writing things down instead of playing with the children. They record sleeping and the 10 minute checks on the board so I can see for myself how she's done.

I love her nursery, but it doesn't sound like you're happy with yours - trust your instincts.

Jefferson Thu 07-Nov-13 13:35:00

Another issue is that DS who just turned 2 doesn't say a single word. We've just has an assessment from SALtT and they're going to send te report to the nursery with strategies. I'm not sure if the staff will implement though.

The lack is speech also means I really have no idea if he is ok, enjoying it, upset etc.

I'm awful at any kind of complaining or making a fuss and the manager doesn't seem super approachable but I will try to raise a few points

I don't have a lot of alternatives either. We wanted nursery rather than childminder for te interactions with other kids am adults to help him start talking

thebody Thu 07-Nov-13 13:41:19

sounds bloody sloppy at best and neglectful at worse.

if I had run my childminding business like this I would have been ashamed.

it doesn't take a second to wipe a mouth and if the staff are tidying up the children should be another staff member having a story or song. they shouldn't all be tidying up.

cuddles and hugs are essential to child care settings
move your child.

thebody Thu 07-Nov-13 13:42:28

a childminder will have other children for you dc to chat to!

merrymouse Thu 07-Nov-13 13:49:45

I think I would go for childminder over nursery to encourage talking - I don't think other 2 year olds are that important, but a consistent adult is. A good nursery will be able to provide a consistent key worker for your child, but IME when you take into account moving between rooms, changes of shift and staff turnover this isn't always easy to do.

merrymouse Thu 07-Nov-13 13:50:51

Also, a good childminder will take their charges to groups with other children.

I would also rethink the childminder. He'll get a lot more one-on-one interaction most likely and there will be other kids for him to play with.

We went from a nursery to a childminder when DS was 2.5 yo and his language really picked up with the CM. I also thought it was better for socialisation as she was really good with manners and discipline, compared to the nursery which was a bit feral.

GobbolinoCat Thu 07-Nov-13 14:33:58

TBH I would not bother raising issues if you have another alternative.

They are not doing these things now why on earth should you have to raise things!

Isn't it basic to see a dirty face and wipe it?

Working in a nursery is working in an caring environment.

You have to ask how many people are truly cut out to work to care for people, if not, why are they there, what motivates them to keep standards high? Usually a good manager. Then of course the whole thing is not run as a charity but as a profitable business.

I just think a healthy dose of cynicism goes a long way in looking at these places.

Someone said switch the hours around, I think that's a very good idea and also pop in when they are not expecting you.

cochonette Thu 07-Nov-13 14:38:53

I agree with other posters - I wouldn't be happy with any of the things you describe. My DS is always clean on face and hands, (even if clothes might be filthy!) at end of day. he is always engaged in playing or activity, no matter what time i go in to collect and the forms of what they ate and when they slept etc have all been filled in at the time, in advance to tell parents at the end of the day.
They do get sweet puddings - but things like custard and home made cake, generally not pre-packaged stuff, and def not ice cream...

Mylovelyboy Thu 07-Nov-13 15:27:12

I can see you are worried about your ds. Firstly the sweet desert is no big deal, least of your worries in fact. What is the issue with the desert by the way. Also, he cannot be engaged all the time. And does it really matter if he is NOT constantly engaged. They should wipe his face and also hands. They sound young and totally in-experienced. Child care training at college just 'does not do it'. Shame its not run by 'mums'. think you need to look elsewhere really

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