I haven't really thought much about nurseries as I really enjoy time with DS (read that as patheticly clingy mother who can't bare the thought of her PFB being away from her!) & at the moment don't need to have him in a nursery.
He is 2.5, and just now starting to want to play with, and interact with other children. So I think its time to start looking.
People have said the waiting lists in our area are huge, so I should have started looking a long time ago - but I don't really know where to start.
DS can go from January 2014 (to get the 15 hours entitlement) - so I have a while yet.
So, my questions, if anyone can help, are as follows:
1. Can I choose any nursery, or do only certain ones accept the places for the free 15 hours? 2. Is there a list of nurseries anywhere? I cant seem to find one on my borough's website - but can find lots on Google.. 3. Obviously I want to look around - do I have to book this? Or can I just turn up? 4. What happens when you look around a nursery? And are there any questions I should be asking the staff? 5. Do I have to apply for the 15 hours before I find a nursery, and where do I apply?
6. Is there anything else I should be thinking about, or finding out about?!
Hi there, its all quite simple really. 1. It would be unusual for the nursery not to accept your 15 hours, but you may have to top up. 2. The family information service (search for your local one www.daycaretrust.org.uk/pages/quick-guide-to-childcare.html here) has a list of nurseries, or you could look them up in the yellow pages, if you don't know anyone to give recommendations. 3. You would def have to book to look around, they are all hot on child protection, just ring up. 4. I found it was as much the feel of the place, the smell, the attitudes of the staff that made my decisions. Always good to ask about staff turnover, when they are open/session times 5.No , the nursery will sort out the free hours. 6. Do you go to any toddler groups (there is a list of these on the FIS website. Its great for socialising outside the house and you meet people who use different nurseries - you can pick their brains.
My advice is to visit as many as you can, it often surprised me that the ones that looked impressive from the outside weren't always that great once you were there, and vice versa. Look for health & safety issues (fire exits, first aid, clean toilets), appropriate staff ratios, children engaged and happy with a variety of activities. You can look up Ofsted reports as well.
Best question I was told to ask: how long has everyone worked here? What is your staff turnover?
My toddler is in love with some of his workers. If they left, he would be sad. But a high staff turnover also belies an unhappy organisation.
Other than that, I went with gut. Ofsteds only show so much. i saw every nursery in the area and just compared them. i chose the smallest one with the most passionate, human staff. And I was right. Best thing we have ever done. Far better than the outstanding one down the road, which was bells and whistles but lacked love.
We go to playgroups regularly. Have asked a few people.. One person that I normally chat to has sent her daughter to nursery - when I was asking her - she was saying she didnt want to bad mouth any nurseries and that I need to go and look at them for myself (!) which I found kind of strange.
And then a couple of other people I speak to have said they are sending their child in a year, and are going to a specific nursery for a specific reason (ie, family at the nursery, or because they speak a certain language at the nursery, or because its near to their home)..
I have found it hard to get any info really.. But thanks for what you have written.. Im currently looking on the ofsted website, to find local nurseries.
I used Ofsted to find out where the nurseries are and read the reports then visited about 8. I drew up a table with all relevant info on eg costs, hours, distance/difficulty to travel, Ofsted mark, overal "vibe", food, staff turnover, activities, outdoor area etc etc