Prospective nursery visit - what to ask?(4 Posts)
DS will be going to nursery when I return to work in April so I've started ringing around nurseries in the area and a couple have suggested I come and have a look around. What sort of questions should I ask when I visit?
Well you could do worse than ask how they manage sleeping arrangements - the answer should be that they are very flexible and your child can sleep when he needs to, and that he won't be put down to sleep at a set time with all the others.
Ask about the key person arrangements - he should be allocated a special person who will have time to give him a lot of attention in his first weeks, and develop a relationship with both him and you.
Ask how often they play outside - you might not be too worried about this yet but as he grows older he will probably need a lot of outdoor play time.
Ask what happens if he bites another child or if he is bitten - if they say this never happens, don't believe them.
Keep your eyes open on the visit - staff should be interacting with the children as much as possible.
The best nurseries will be happy for you to turn up without an appointment, maybe avoiding meal times.
All the advice seems to be keep an eye on what's going on and trust your instincts. If something doesn't feel right, even if you can't put your finger on exactly why, it'll niggle you and you'll worry that you didn't make the right decision.
Do the children appear happy, are the workers engaged with them, are children in distress comforted and cuddled? Are their days strictly structed or is it 'playtime for all'? What would suit your DS? Are the kids covered in glue / glitter / paint / sand? This to me is a good sign they are involved in different activities and having fun!
How long have the staff been there? (High turnover of staff could indicate underlying issues). Do they have male staff? Having a boy, this could give them another great male role model in their lives. (My neighbour's 4 year old son adores his male key worker!)
Ask to see all the rooms, and ask when your little one will move up. Are there kids artwork on the walls or is it 'clinical'? What feels right for your son? Look at the outside space and the range / condition of play equipment.
Check sleeping arrangements, and do the mattresses / blankets look in good condition?
Where is food prepared, who does the cooking, ask for a copy of a sample menu, can they accommodate any dietary preferences your child has? (Are you a vegetarian parent for example) Is water easily available if children want a drink out with lunch / snack time? Is formula bottle prep area clean and tidy? Do they encourage teeth brushing after lunch for older children? Where are these toothbrushes kept? (Hopefully away from toilets!)
Where are nappies changed? Does this area appear clean / safe. Is it away from food prep / eating area? What is their policy on how often nappies are checked/changed? Are nappies included in the price or do you need to supply them? If you use reuseables, will they accommodate that? Ask them about toilet training.
Do they offer additional activities and any additional cost of these? My nephew (2 years) does ’baby French' at nursery. Some offer jingle classes or equivalent. Do they / how often go on external outings? To the local park / swimming for the older kids.
If I spotted nursery workers having a cig break that would personally put me off.
Ask for copy of their sickness policy. Confirm the drop-off / pick up times. What days are they closed over Xmas? How do they celebrate Xmas / Halloween / Easter / Eid etc and does this reflect your own beliefs?
What are their payment terms? Do they accept childcare vouchers (if applicable to you)? Confirm the arrangements when your DS turns 3 and becomes entitled to 15 hours free pre-schooling.
Nurseries should have a folder containing copies of all their policies / procedures. Ask to have a look (if not obviously available) and don't be afraid to ask for clarification. Ask about their policy for publishing photos of the children on their website / in their newsletter (personal bug-bear!)
If you are viewing a number of options, write notes after your visit to help your remember key issues so you can compare one with another. I think if you get a good vibe, it'll work for your and your DS. Good luck!
Great advice above. When you find a nursery you like, I would ask if you could visit for half a day to really get a feel for exactly what it is like, before you sign up.
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