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What to look for in a nursery?

(13 Posts)
321ashers Mon 14-Jan-13 15:07:06

This may seem obvious to many of you but I honestly feel clueless. I'm looking for tips on what to look for in a nursery or things that should set alarm bells ringing. Probably going to be sending my ds who will be 1yr for 3 full days a week.

TiggyD Mon 14-Jan-13 17:33:09

Check to see if they have at least one man working there. If they don't...well, you've got to wonder why.

PeazlyPops Mon 14-Jan-13 17:36:42

Really Tiggy? I looked at many nurseries and only one had a man working there.

IceNoSlice Mon 14-Jan-13 17:45:21

Tiggy... What do you mean?

insancerre Mon 14-Jan-13 18:17:05

I work in a fantastic nursery and we don't have any men
Just having a man there for the sake of being a man is tokenism.
There are some good male early years workers out there but there are some crap ones too.

IceNoSlice Mon 14-Jan-13 18:46:25

Still confused about the comment from TiggyD, don't understand. However to answer the OP...

I don't have anything definitive as my LO is not in nursery yet but I am looking at them. Some of the things I am looking at:
- does it feel nice and clean, bright, welcoming, smell nice etc? What sort of feeling do you get
- does it have an outside play area
- what sort of meals are served
- do you give you discount for weeks your LO won't be in nursery eg holidays (one I'm looking at gives 50% discount for holiday weeks notified at least 4 weeks in advance, means about £400 saving to us)
- child's illness. Some places won't give calpol and seem to have a lower 'common sense' threshold, but it's hard to find this one out unless you know parents of kids already there.

Doraemon Mon 14-Jan-13 19:02:53

I would say firstly look at how the staff are interacting with the children - how do they respond to children talking/vocalising? How do they react if a child is upset or crying? How do they react if a child does something like throwing or snatching?

What is their policy about nap times? Do the children all nap at a set time, or according to their individual routines? How do they settle the children?
What is the staff turn over like? How do they handle transitions eg moving from baby room to toddler room? Do the children get out and about beyond the nursery (although if your DS is not full-time this may be less important than if he were there 5 days a week) How do they communicate with parents?

For me as a parent and as a childminder the quality of the relationships between the children and the nursery staff would be really key.

IceNoSlice Mon 14-Jan-13 19:43:02

Great post Doraemon, thank you.

notcitrus Mon 14-Jan-13 19:43:58

Staff, staff, staff. Do they look reasonably interested on what they are doing, and are they interacting with the kids, and what happens when a child cries - ds goes to the nursery where a crying child was invariably being cuddled or talked to by the time I realised who it was. Ask them what they would do with a child who didn't have a routine/had cloth nappies/was scared of bigger toddlers/is scared of new food - the details aren't important but the willingness to treat your child as an individual is.
If all the toys etc are brand new, do they actually let the kids play with them? How are mealtimes arranged - do they get cheap staff with little English to cover or are the workers eating and chatting with the kids? What is the attitude to kids getting mucky - encouraged or discouraged?

Dd starts nursery with big brother tomorrow - I know the staff are great with kids and that outweighs everything else. And location! Though I appreciate the new manager can send out accurate invoices first time!

Mandy21 Mon 14-Jan-13 20:36:57

Definitely to do with the staff - how they interact with the children, whether the children seem happy, are approaching the staff (for cuddles etc), whether the staff look like they're interested. A low staff turnover is crucial. See if the nursery nurse showing you around knows the children's names. Does the room look organised (in terms of activities), is there a plan on the wall? Do they have a keyworker system (one member of staff that will be the principal point of contact), how do you find out how your child has been on a day to day basis?

See if you have to make an appointment (you probably will the first time) but see if you can just drop in for another look / chat afterwards (i.e. are you only allowed to look round when they have notice).

If you can, think what you'll want as your child gets older - how long do they spend in each room (i.e. so they don't get bored), is there a properly qualified teacher in the pre-school year (if thats important to you). Do they accept the early years funding from the term after they're 3?

I think routine is less important, babies can adapt, its more about feeling that the staff will genuinely care for your child, not that they're going through the motions.

littletime Mon 14-Jan-13 21:24:01

Are the adults sat down? Always implies they're not interacting with children and are bored.
Smell - smelly nurseries, food is bad, nappy bin never emptied, dirty floors
How recent are the photos on display? If only summer ones are up, do they go out in winter? Or do they not put photos up enough? Take them? All implies to me that they're lazy.
How muddy are the wellies?
Are the children laughing their heads off? So important too.
Fresh food on offer everyday?

321ashers Mon 14-Jan-13 21:39:48

Thanks everyone! Really helpful. Going to look around our first nursery this Friday. Want to make sure I get the most info I can out of that visit. Again, Tiggy, confused about man comment....??!

TiggyD Mon 14-Jan-13 21:56:38

I've applied to nurseries and have been rejected on very dodgy grounds before. The only nurseries that you can pretty much guarantee don't discriminate against men are those with men working in them.

What to look for? Everything really. It's a whole connected package. Good staff are the key but good staff don't want to work for crap management so that has to be good. Good pay, good conditions, good resources are all needed if you're going to attract staff that are worth attracting.
I check for staff who can talk...well, talk really. In sentences. That rules a lot out. Sharp pencils. Can staff be bothered to do the basics like supply sharp pencils.? Are the books in good condition are tatty and torn? - A sign of under-funding. Do the management spend ages telling you about learning journeys? Bas sign. I've worked in nurseries that spend most of their time making wonderful learning journeys at the expense of looking after the children.

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