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Top 5 requirments when looking for a nursery?

(12 Posts)
sameb Sun 05-May-13 09:05:06

I will soon be looking for childcare for my son, and Im interested in what everyones top requirments were when you were looking for your childcare provider.
Any thoughts appriciated.

BedHog Sun 05-May-13 09:26:54

1. Location. If a child is at nursery for, say, 3 hours, you don't want to be spending 1 of those travelling to and from home/work.
2. Flexibility of hours. Some nurseries only allow pickups at certain times, or charge you til 6 even if you pick up at 4, or only accept free places (for 3 yr olds) in afternoons which is useless if you have an older child at school.
3. Price. DD's nursery charges £3.90 an hour, but some charge ridiculous prices.
4. Atmosphere. Are the staff happy, caring and professional? Do the other children look like they are enjoying being there?
5. Activities. Is there a good range of toys, books, outdoor play to keep the children occupied? Do they do basic preparation for school eg learning letters and numbers etc?

MrsCosmopilite Sun 05-May-13 09:37:03

What Bedhog said.

We checked out several around our way. The one we went for is a 15 minute drive, and offers care from 7.30am -6pm. Children staying beyond 6pm are accommodated, but there is an additional charge because the nursery also run an after-school club, so staff who would be dealing with those children are used to look after the 'late collectees'.

They cater for all dietary requirements, and tend to group the children together by age AND ability. So younger children who are on a higher/faster developmental curve get to interact with slightly older children. At the end of the day, the children are all in one or two rooms, so they get to meet other children from other 'classes' (as in babies mix with toddlers).

They have a high staff to child ratio. Despite the recommended change (recent Govt. guidelines) they still have fewer children to each staff member.

They do a huge amount of activities. If the weather is good, then children are outdoors for the majority of the day, actively playing - climbing, running, riding bikes/scooters, playing with sand/water, etc.

Learning is made part of the fun process. They're learning their alphabet and counting, practicing co-ordination, shape recognition, colours, puzzle-solving, etc. on a daily basis.

The staff are wonderful!

It's a bit expensive on the face of it (about £40 per day), but when you consider that is potentially a 10.5h day, and includes meals, I don't think it is at al unreasonable.

Sameb, maybe you could consider also posting in MN local for your area to see if anyone has any recommended nurseries/childminders?

insancerre Sun 05-May-13 15:18:47

1 personal recommendation
2 child-centred environment
3 location
4 affordability
5 ofsted report

sameb Mon 06-May-13 08:22:36

Thaks, most of these are similar to what I was thinking, I just wanted to check there wasnt anything I had missed out.

Thanks for the info about the local thread.

KristyWills Wed 08-May-13 09:26:28

This is a really good thread as we're just about to start looking for Sienna as i'm due to go back to work in 3 months sad. ive heard a lot of horror stories about nurseries but think i'll go on personal recommendation first and then look at all the other factors xx

WildeRumpus Wed 08-May-13 09:37:13

It's a strange one but you do just 'know' when you have found one that is right for you smile. We only just started using a nursery for ds (3yo) and found we wanted one that focussed on him more than ofsted or early years chat (tho it has an outstanding rating!), asked about him as a person and engaged him easily. I would also look around and see how tidy and 'loved' the environment was, how varied the activities were and other small things like just checking the kids playing.outside had coats on and done up etc - those little caring touches that actually some.nurseries didn't bother about.

Essentially it is instinct tho and you just get a feel for it like when househunting.

Good luck!

Nishky Wed 08-May-13 09:45:09

I was also impressed by food cooked on the premises and the ability to play out a lot ( we chose one on a farm- not a working farm!)

nomoreminibreaks Wed 08-May-13 09:56:22

Now DS has been in nursery for over a year, my requirements are not what I would have said before he started iyswim...

1. That the staff seem to really care about him. Each child is an individual to them and they always notice little things like a new haircut/new shoes. They talk to me a lot about his development and keep a folder with regular observations of his learning and photos of what he's been doing. They also adapt their care to each child's development eg not moving him up to the 'tweenie' room until he was steady on his feet and starting to talk more, not just when there was room for him.

2. A variety of structured activities and free play. He gets to do the messy stuff we wouldn't do at home and always enjoys himself. The structured play means he doesn't just spend all day playing with cars, which he could easily do!

3. Parking! Not a lot have this and I didn't think of it at all before he started but it's a godsend to always have a parking space and not have to join the scramble for street parking outside the nursery that was attached to a school.

4. Flexibility. There have been times when DS couldn't go to nursery due to illness so I've had to take the day off work but they could fit him in later in the week so I could make up the day. They can also swap days or have extra days if they have room. We do get a fine if we pick him up after 6 but that's never been an issue as we work and live close by.

5. Ofsted. I was told that because DS' is private they don't get warned when ofsted is turning up. I don't know if that's true but if it is then a privately owned nursery with a good rating might be better?

timetosmile Wed 08-May-13 10:07:24

Decide whether you want one near work or home, if you have a long commute...near work runs the risk of them dropping off to sleep at 5.15pm in the car then being up half the night!

Outdoor space was a big factor for me, especially as they get towards preschool. Grubby knees and socks and fresh air are vital to busy little people!

A warm and loving, homely environment is as least as important as EYFS 'targets' especially if your DC is not going to be there fulltime, or if you are planning to send them to a nursery attatched to a primary at 3+yrs.

Lots of good advice in the posts above, too.

Emsmaman Wed 08-May-13 15:59:19

1. Hours (not just length of day but if they did half days or only full days, if they had enough availability to take ad hoc days if needed)
2. Food
3. Sleeping area for babies (i.e. sleep room with cots, not cots in the same area as eating/playing)
4. Cleanliness (I know these rooms are going to be messy but staples scattered all over a baby room floor? Really?)
5. People (which is obviously more of a gut feeling kind of thing).

Personal recommendation is a good place to start but weirdly I was not at all impressed with a local nursery that I had on recommendation from parents I thought were very much like myself. Also I did not prioritise location so highly, I looked at everything within 20 mins walk or so which encapsulated 7 nurseries.

Mandy21 Wed 08-May-13 22:18:09

I think location and price are factors but more at the bottom of my list. I'd willing travel further or pay more if I thought the extra was worthwhile.

1. Relationship between staff and children - I think this is the absolute priority. Love is a bit of a strong word, but do they genuinely care for the children? Are there lots of loves / cuddles / tickling? Children are happy to approach staff, feel happy / settled. Part of this is down to staff turnover / having a key worker system but generally just the ethos of the nursery.

2. Variety of activities / structure / free play to ensure that the children don't get bored. Lots of outdoor play.

3. Communication - do you get feedback on how your child has been (written report re nappies / food / sleep etc for baby). Is it a "she's been fine" or is it "we did this today, she particularly liked X, she played with Y, this is the topic we looked at". REally important in my view when they're there for a full day.

4. Ofsted report / word of mouth. I'd want to know that other people have used the nursery and been happy with it.

5. Sleeping area for babies (depending on what age your child / baby is starting). My DDs nursery had a separate room with dedicated cots for each baby. Willingness of the nursery to follow babies routine rather than dictate that baby has to follow nursery's routine.

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