Please help me assess DS nursery - baby room - what does your nursery do?

(20 Posts)
OhGood Thu 19-Jun-14 12:17:02

I am really struggling to know what's best and would love your opinions.

DS is 1. He goes to nursery 9-3 for 3 days a week. I have an older DD who went to an absolutely excellent childminder, so I have a. high standards and b. no other nursery to compare to!

The nursery is fine and DS seems happy enough (though he is a sunny little soul who is happy everywhere, so...) Staff seem nice, and fairly warm and caring, which is most important thing and reason I chose them.

My issue is that the nursery staff don't ever seem to do much with the babies. They are very full, quite a few babies, and just keeping up with the babies' needs seems to keep them incredibly busy - it feels like they are constantly firefighting and rushing and stressing a bit just to do basic care.

Now to be clear I do NOT expect miracles. But I did expect them to spend a bit of time doing something organised with the babies - singing some songs, offering a bit of messy play, reading a couple of stories. They promise all this stuff, but never actually seem to find the time to do it. As a result the babies spend all / most of their time on the floor with the toys. Fine in itself, but I worry that there is absolutely zero proactive, individual, read-three-of-us-a-story-type time.

What does your nursery do? Can you help me get an idea about how normal this is, or if I should be trying somewhere else?

Thanks.

mrsmalcolmreynolds Thu 19-Jun-14 12:27:47

Our nursery does do a lot of stuff with them - usually at least one sort of messy/creative play a day (water play, sand, paint, shaving foam etc). They also take them out and about a fair bit - either in triple buggies for walks or to the outside space at the nursery. They also definitely do singing, stories, dancing etc.

However, can I ask how you know that they don't interact with the children in the way you would like? Aren't you only there at the beginning or end of the day? IME those are pretty frantic times and I wouldn't expect the staff to be doing a huge amount other than keeping up with needs and doing handovers then.

TiredFeet Thu 19-Jun-14 12:32:50

Very similar to mrsmalcolm they do lots of painting/water play/messy play etc, and have two different baby gardens they go in, or they go on little trips to the big childrens garden/the park across the road.

Agree though that these things don't happen at pick up/drop off time of course (but we get lots of photos, and my older son is allowed to visit his little sister and tells me what she was doing)

RubyrooUK Thu 19-Jun-14 12:35:23

Agree with Mrsmalcolm. My one year old comes home with a large amount of glitter and sand in his hair most days. And paint on him. They definitely read stories and do music. And go out sometimes (I know this because they are all horrified he can undo buggy straps already).

But start/end of the day are generally a bit less focused with the upheaval of drop off/pick up time. Independent playing is also encouraged because when kids are settling in etc they need holding a lot, so it is simply more practical not to be holding two babies at the time.

But they should definitely be interacting a lot with the babies.

MillionPramMiles Thu 19-Jun-14 13:22:27

Dd's nursery lists their planned activities daily and have a daily routine - usually includes singing, creative/messy play (any combination of painting, glitter/glue, play-doh, water play, sand pit), garden play (includes games, toddler/baby gym equipment), a mix of small and large group activities. Dd's clothes and folder show what she's been doing too. From aged 2 they also do letter/number games and cooking.

There's usually free time at the end of the day and at this time the children would be more likely to be playing with toys independantly.
Ask the staff specific qus about what they've been doing with ds. Ask to see his folder perhaps?

Nursery is a very different environment to a CM, there can be less emphasis on 1:1 care and you might not get to know nursery staff in the way you would a CM so you may need to adjust your expectations.

A good nursery can be a fantastic environment though, dd has thrived at her nursery, she loves the range of activities and having lots of other kids around, she's never bored and the structure/routine of the day really suits her. I don't think a CM would have been right for her but you need to do what suits your child.

Do you get a report at the end of the day? We do, generally they have read stories (and I know they actually have because dd2 can repeat phrases out of books that we have never read at home, ditto with songs), painted or cooked (the art and food come home), they take them to the park and they play outside. The nursery nurses are always seen interacting with the children too whenever I've been there.

OhGood Thu 19-Jun-14 14:05:48

Take your points re start / end of day.

Maybe they are doing this stuff and I just don't hear about it. DS has been going for a few months now, but we're still building relationships with staff - and I always chat for a few minutes at end of day to find out what I can. Bit ike getting blood from stone.

You're right - I think I should ask for a bit of a review in a few weeks and see if I can get a bit more out of them.

But I know for a fact that DS / they have only painted once since April (father's day...) and he comes home very clean. They do go outside, though.

This is very useful - thanks.

EssexMummy123 Thu 19-Jun-14 21:22:32

Do you not have a book or cards filled out or something to update you at the end of the day? I thought that was normal for younger babies. E.g less than 2 - 2.5

redandyellowbits Thu 19-Jun-14 21:28:04

My DDs nursery is very much like yours OP, I have occasionally had to pick up DD early for appointments, and the children/babies are always playing with toys and never doing structured activities. I am moving her out at the end of this term.

This is very different from my older DDs nursery, where the day was much more structured with some sort of painting/messy play every day. We were constantly told not to dress them in their best clothes, and they each had a or which would hold their paintings/drawing etc they did that day. I would come home with at least 2-3 things per day.

redandyellowbits Thu 19-Jun-14 21:28:52

*each had a peg

Chasinglemons Thu 19-Jun-14 21:29:19

Do you have a folder? We have a book they print photos of DD doing the various activities - messy play, feeling textures, inside/outside activities, music. We get to have this over the weekend and can add home photos. Plus for me and DP it's nice to see what she gets up to. They send a daily email with food, nappy changes & activities.

redandyellowbits Thu 19-Jun-14 21:30:54

They should be either filling in a diary (mine never did), or giving you their finished items to take home.

Drawing/painting etc is really great for developing their fine motor skills as well as being an enjoyable crat activity, can you specifically ask them about this?

TheresLotsOfFarmyardAnimals Thu 19-Jun-14 21:33:02

There is usually an activity a day. I think its often hectic at collection time as they're busy handing over but try and pop in randomly one day and see how they're getting on between those times.

Ds new nursery write down their activities but the old one didn't. They'd put it in his learning journey though

summerflower Thu 19-Jun-14 21:48:44

DC old nursery was very structured, lots of activities, walks to the park, outside space to play, all done to a schedule. There was a board where they wrote down all the activities. You could almost tell to the minute where they would be in the schedule during the day.

DD got on fine there. DS did not. He is now at a nursery which is much more free-flowing, massive outside space, lots of choice what to do, or simply play, and he is so much happier. And in retrospect, the more free-flowing place is much more relaxed. They do stuff, if I go in the middle of the day, the place looks like a paint and glitter bomb has gone off, but by pick up, they have tidied up. And there is no board listing everything to the minute.

Poosnu Thu 19-Jun-14 21:52:31

Circle time a few times a day with singing for the babies or stories for the toddlers upwards. Messy play often. Art once a day - done individually with each baby. A trip to park / canal / ducks once a day if the weather allows (our nursery has very little outside space).

fledermaus Thu 19-Jun-14 21:59:26

I don't think DS's (excellent) nursery ever did structured activities or circle times with under 2s - singing and stories happened as and when children/adults wanted to, as they would at home. They never made them produce artwork either, if they did messy/sensory play it was things like playing with rice crispies/gloop/paint. They had access to toys, instruments, books, sand and water play and a garden too.

OhGood Fri 20-Jun-14 11:25:42

Having a bit of a grim realisation here.

All your nurseries sound better than my nursery.

trilbydoll Fri 20-Jun-14 21:10:50

I get the impression that most of the structured activities happen in the afternoon. The morning is breakfast, snack then lunch at 11.30, I think they struggle to fit anything more than changing nappies in between all the food!

In this weather they are outside a lot so just playing with balls, sand, water etc. Nothing that generates anything to take home.

DD's 'special moments' have included body painting / drawing, singing & signing, running in a circle and throwing herself into the teepee, playing on the bounce and spin zebra and reading a duck book.

They don't do structured stuff every day, and that is fine, neither would I at home. She is happy to go in the morning and is exhausted when I pick her up so I figure she is having enough fun in the middle!

livingthegoodlife Mon 14-Jul-14 22:13:54

my 13 month old does messy play every day, playing outside in the garden, stories, and singing. the nursery has little play stations set up in the room so the babies can rotate on activities. they have loads of different structured activities.

i wouldnt be happy if it weas 'free play' all day. they need stimulation.

toomanywheeliebins Sun 10-Aug-14 21:54:14

Thought I would share my experience- have two DD's at nursery in Zone 2. One has been through baby room, one in baby room.

Ofsted outstanding- charity run.
They plan morning activities around EYFS learning objectives so the morning there will be three activities set up on arrival. They rotate them
but there is usually one messy, one physical and one that works some other area - eg. musical instruments, or small world figures.
They look amazing on arrival and are immediately trashed..

They do circle time for a short period each day- they sing songs every day and get read to. This builds up as they get bigger- my daughter has much longer at 3 and also does "projects" (eg on an artist, animals, or something the children have asked for). Circle time is an important aspect of school readiness so even though babies choose activities most of the day it is valuable. Afternoon is less structured as many have a nap but there is always something to do that is planned.

Free play outside in all weathers, nursery provide all in ones for all sizes.

Trips and visits out about once a month- more as they get older- about once a week for eldest on a three day week. Places include park, other nursery centre, Tate Modern, Zoo. Parties to celebrate events eg. eid. Xmas etc

All planning on wall, books filled daily (requirement for the under two's by Ofsted), verbal feedback on food and sleep from a written list and what they did during day (eg water play).Reviews every three to six months with key worker.

They come back filthy dirty but exhausted.

This is top end, but if the nursery is good I would expect some of this.

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