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what do you want from a nursery?

(37 Posts)
beachbummum Tue 07-Jun-05 21:02:46

I am a childminder at the moment and am trying to set up my own nursery. I would like any comments on what you want from a nursery and if your child is at a nursery what you like ao what you would improve.

mamadadawahwah Tue 07-Jun-05 21:27:29

What an excellent question. I am about to send my son to a private day nursery and these are the things i want:

St John's first aid courses for all staff, and i mean ALL staff, with certificates.

Early learning concepts to be introduced and put into action as soon as child is capable of comprehending.

Sanitation of uppermost importance. Hand washing to be paramount.

Food given to children to be of high quality, not chicken nuggets and coleslaw.

This questionnaire to be given to all parents and the responses to be taken seriously by staff.

A diary of children's progress to be undertaken by staff with a diary for each child to be given to the parents at intervals to look over and discuss.

But most important, i want my child to be cared for by staff who are fond of children, arent just in it for a "job" and who really care about my child's progress, safety, and social well being.

Lots more but it would be too long

janinlondon Wed 08-Jun-05 08:26:15

A totally secure environment, no one in or out without being seen, but having said that, the opportunity for parents to come and go without notice. Plenty of both indoor and outdoor space - nothing worse than a cramped room full of toddlers going spare. Separate area for nappy changing. Clean welcoming child sized toilets with proper handwashing facilities. Quality food cooked on site and served to the children in a homely but structured way (ie: sitting down at a table with cutlery and some sort of order). Areas where children can sit quietly if they want to. LOTS of books and stimulating toys. Structured learning when the time comes, and the capacity to cater for a range of abilities. But most of all I would want a nursery that simply exudes love. I would want to come in and find my child being cuddled and for them to want to say goodbye to their teachers at the end of the day. I count myself incredibly lucky that I did actually find this nursery for my DD. Good luck with setting up!

Lizzylou Wed 08-Jun-05 08:36:19

To add to previous posts:
My Ds has been to two nurseries and I find his current one by far the best, I think one of the reasons is that the staff are a mix of ages, not just young girls(16-22yrs) with no children of their own fresh out of a NNEB course.
DS's key-worker at nursery is a similar age to me and has 2 sons of her own, she is a fount of knowledge and "motherly" with DS without seeming a threat.....I often walk in to find them tickling and he always kisses her and the other memebrs of staff goodbye (without prompting)........
They are also very honest about everythng, if DS has even a slight knock they get out the accident he is a rowdy 15mths...that is a lot!
I think trust is my big thing....I totally trust them to look after my DS whilst I am at work....

mamadadawahwah Wed 08-Jun-05 09:40:45

wow, i learned a lot from the last two posts and 2nd what they said. I hope more people contribute to this question!!

mamadadawahwah Wed 08-Jun-05 09:42:44

just out of interest, do any of you know of a web site where there is a "checklist" of things to look out for/ask when sending your child to a nursery? I want to ask pertinent questions when my son finally goes but dont know where to start.

mamadadawahwah Wed 08-Jun-05 09:43:32

Beachbummum, can we hear from you, you know, how far you have progressed in your idea and what kind of nursery you plan to set up??

vickiyumyum Wed 08-Jun-05 09:51:10

i can only repaet what the others have said, my only other big issue with nurseries, is no hidden fees! say exactly what you are charging, as long as your fair and reasonable and can justify your charges, be up front about them.
i had an incident wherby a nursery said that there fee was £160 per week, what they forgot to tell me and didn't write down anywhere was that there were extra fees for nappies and food!, which meant a reasonable (cheap!) £160 rose to £185 with extras, which isn't alot and i wouldn't have objected to paying £185, but it was not being told about the fees that bugged me.

beansmum Wed 08-Jun-05 09:51:46

I love the nursery bean goes to, so much that I have decided to keep him going there once a week next year even though I can't afford it and I don't need him to.

good things about it

big safe enclosed garden

homecooked meals

cool little toilets (ds doesn't use them yet but they are so funny!)

range of ages in the nursery nurses, and lots of them have their own children

secure door system, you have to buzz to get in and there is cctv, they don't mind if I turn up unexpectedly though.

daily report, shows what and how much ds has eaten, how many nappy changes he has had, when and for how long he slept

parents evenings regularly

I love everything about it actually, the staff are lovely and love bean to bits, they were so upset when they thought he was going to be leaving! It's always clean and organised and ds is always happy.

mamadadawahwah Wed 08-Jun-05 10:39:40

lucky you beansmum!

does anyone know if private nurseries have subsidies for parents on low income or who are not working? This would be a good thing for parents who need their kids to get "out and about" with other children, but who can't really afford it.

beansmum Wed 08-Jun-05 11:11:42

I've never heard of anything like that, you can get tax credits if you are on a low income, but that's nothing to do with the nursery. I'm just using bean's child benefit to pay for my fees, it usually goes straight into his savings account but I'll reduce the standing order a bit.

beansmum Wed 08-Jun-05 11:13:02

actually just realised that will only cover half of it, the rest will come from my tiny income and bean will just have to have no savings for a while.

Fennel Wed 08-Jun-05 11:34:58

good food (and good vegetarian food)

lots of outdoor play

carers who aren't just bored 18 year olds but older,
more experienced carers.

cheerful busy atmosphere

very little or no TV.

daily diary for babies - what they ate etc.

LunarSea Wed 08-Jun-05 12:12:52

One really I good idea which they'd used at a nursery ds went to in Canada for a while was to have a one-way mirror from the lobby area into the room where the children are. That way you can actually look in and see how they are without them (or the staff for that matter!) knowing you are there. Great for those times when the kids don't want the parent to leave, but the parent wants to know that they really do settle quickly once they've gone.

One of the criteria I used when choosing a nursery for ds was the amount of time he would get to spend outside/how much outdoor space they had. I really believe that lots of outdoor activities are important for little ones - particularly for boys. Our nursery takes them for daily walks as long as it's not absolutely emptying down (a little bit of rain won't actually hurt them) or way below freezing. It sounds crazy but I rejected places which didn't have wellies and waterproofs on the list of things I had to send in for him! Obviously this isn't important to everyone, and not all nurseries will be lucky enough to be in the kind of setting where they can do that without encountering traffic etc.

Our nursery also does a lot at quite an early stage with them about where food comes from, so they keep chickens and the children help to feed/water them, and collect the eggs, and they grow things like pumpkins so they can water them and watch them grow, and do simple cooking - obviously with a lot of help and supervision. I quite like that as it takes the "giving them good food" ethos a bit further and actually gets them to understand food a bit too (ds recently asked the lady running a cheese stall at our local farmers market if she knew that cheese was made from milk, which comes from cows? Or from sheep or goats or buffalos!)

Other than that, agree with the mixed ages of carers as mentioned before, low turnover of staff (although obviously you can't do much about that if you are only just opening), security, etc.

I'd also look at other non-routine actvities - ours has trips out every so often to a zoo or farm for example, or has people come in with a tractor say, or a shire horse and cart, and the bigger ones do a "show" a couple of times a year.

tbh although you'd obviously want them to be following the early years goals, I'm not over bothered by the places which offer things like languages for 2 year olds.

Perhaps illogically I found the neatest, tidiest, smartest decoration, everything brand new and perfectly tidy places a bit too sterile and designed to appeal to the parents rather than the kids. But then as it's the parents who are paying the bills....

Perhaps you need to decide what your target market (in terms of the parents requirements) is? Think about the type of area the nursery is going to be in, and consider what the likely top priorities of the local parents may be (which might not be the same as the average response you get from mumsnet!). I'm sure in some areas organic everything, early language lessons and visiting ballet teachers would be de rigeur, in others nobody would be bothered if you had turkey twizzlers and chips on the menu every day and TV on all the time (and most places of course would be somewhere in between the two)

titchy Wed 08-Jun-05 13:56:49

One that takes nursery vouchers as well as the early years gant would help low income/working parent.

Clean toilets (and enough to go round!) Potties checked regularly (one or two of the children at ds nursery use the potty by themselves which is fine, but the staff don't alwasy remember to clean afterwards

Decent food and snakcs and drinks offered throughout the day, not just at mealtimes.

Nice outdoor area and commitment to going outside even when its not sunny

staff that really do care, and preferably older with experience, and staff that stay - i.e. low turn around

Regularly reports- written ones and informal chats - the key worker being pro-active in saying he/she's been fine etc today

Visits to outside places are nice - even just the nearest duck pond, and for the older ones maybe an annual visit to a local farm or other attraction.

also people that come in a teach music or dance or sport or Franch or something wuold be nice - often if children are there full time their parents feel they are missing out on extra-curroicular stuff like that (theyt're not of course - parents are just too competetive!)

Other than that just secodn what everyone else has said.

cazzybabs Wed 08-Jun-05 14:03:09

I dito everything but I would like to see a role play/home corner that changes regulary with staff in their playing with the children, lots of books, oppertunites for the children to independently explore things, music oppurnities and creative development - I don't want the childrnen to just paint, but use clay, frabric etc etc. Visits to places (nightmare with ratio of staff to children though) and vistors!

And most importantly happ y children

beachbummum Thu 09-Jun-05 06:46:39

thank you for all your messages. they are great and will be a great help.
the nursery that i am setting up will be registered for 40 children aged 6weeks to 5years. the children will be put into their agegroup rooms but we will have a 'lounge' with sofa's, beanbags and all groups will come together for singing, stories etc.
the fee's for the nursery will include everything, food, formular milk, nappies, wipes, nappy creams. i decided to do this so that parents know what they have to pay and don't have to add extras onto their bill.

some nurseries do offer reductions for parents on low incomes. remember that you can claim tax credits, and some places of work have childcare vouchers. you buy these tax and NI free from your wages. also if you live in a sure start area you may be intitled to a sure start grant.

thanks once again for all your comments. talk soon.

titchy Thu 09-Jun-05 10:18:33

I know it's a business but do you have to take babies as young as 6 weeks? This just seems so little - they should not be in day care at this age I'm sorry. One of the things that impresses me about some nurseries that they won't take babies under 3 months - none under 6 months would be even better.

I'm all in favour of day care and use it myself, but I don't think it's right for such tiny ones and would like to see a moral stance taken.

colditz Thu 09-Jun-05 10:21:29

Titchy, it would be nice if everyone had a choice about whether to put their baby in childcare, but unfortunatly it can't always be avoided. Taking a "Moral Stance" will simply mean these mothers feel even more guilty and excluded than ever.

TracyK Thu 09-Jun-05 10:26:45

I agree with Titchy!
3 months preferably 6 months - tho my ds went for 1 afternoon a week from 5 months - just to get him used to other children.
Teeth brushing is something that my nursery has introduced recently.
Where abouts are you opening?

zebraZ Thu 09-Jun-05 10:51:28

It's easier to settle a baby into nursery than a toddler, anyway, not sure about 6 weeks (it would torture me to leave mine so early, anyway) but starting under 6 months definnitely a good thing (IME).

Back to topic... A really good keyworker system. So that the children are sure to form good relationships with at least 2 staff members. My DS1 had problems settling partly because he never got attached to any of the staff. Also, they spent too much time all day in one room; knowing DS1 as I do now, I can see that he hated the monotony of it, the set routine didn't suit him, either.

One of our local nurseries won't take children for less than 18 hours/week for related reasons, because the children don't settle well otherwise.

Fennel Thu 09-Jun-05 11:17:02

My sister had the most whiney baby, she cried nonstop til 3 months. Then the baby started at childcare 2 mornings a week. there was the most amazing difference, relaxed mother, happy baby. Early childcare works for some people.

titchy Fri 10-Jun-05 13:02:08

I'm sorry but at 6 weeks everyone has a choice. You get statutory maternity pay longer than this. Even if yuo need the money desperatetly you can save a tiny bit during each month of pregnancy (most people do get notice they're having a baby!) just to at least survive another few weeks till they're 3 months at least. I would rather starve myself than put my 6 week old into childcare.

QueenFlounce Fri 10-Jun-05 13:06:00

Titchy - I am the main earner at the moment. I know how it feels to be pressurised into returning to work. If you're self-employed for example you may not be entitled to SMP.

Its all very well to say you'd starve rather than do that, but be realistic.... you've c;early never been in a desperate financial situation where you may lose the house your children live in.

I haven't either, but at least I'm not as narrow minded as to think that EVERYONE can afford to take 3months off work after having a baby.

Meeely2 Fri 10-Jun-05 14:33:19

Titchy - nearly ALL nurseries take babies from 6 weeks these days - admittedly mine were still in hosp at 6 weeks, so didn't start nursery til they were 5 months (2 1/2 months corrected), but like previous posts, SOMETIMES mums just don't have a choice.

If you think about it, a 6 week old baby just wants to be fed, cuddled and kept warm, it may seem harsh, but if it's not it's mum doing the feeding cuddling and warming, they really aren't that bothered. My twins were in hosp for 8 weeks being cared for by nurses - this did them no harm at all, I was around for two feeds a day and we had cuddles as much as we could - how is that any different from leaving them at a nursery a few days a week? They still knew who I was and you should see the smiles I get when I go and pick them up from nursery now!

I think it's a personal choice and yes, some people may find the idea of leaving their baby to be cared for by other people, completely appalling, others however may find those few days back at work a blessed relief and can make the other days that bit more bearable. My two love nursery and have come on leaps and bounds since being there as they are both played with seperately and together and one isn't being constantly left while I cuddle the other....

I am all for nursery, whatever age you want to start, and remember for some folk to go down to half pay plus SMP is a real blow to income and that started after 6 weeks for me, so getting back to work was a real priority for me as with twins, I had a hell of a increase on outgoings!

Anyway, thats my rant over - good luck beachbummum! what area are you in?

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