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Choosing a nursery - large purpose built or small family feel(11 Posts)
We are moving house and need to choose a new nursery for my one year old and three year old. Have two good options and can't choose!
One is small, (40 place), set in a big old house. Had a lovely family feel due to size. Rooms are not huge and outdoor space while lovely is quite small - my 3 year old likes nothing better than to hurtle round on trikes etc and there is limited space to do this.
The other option is very large purpose built building, 150 place. Rooms are large and spacious, lots of outside space, soft play room. Lots of trike hurtling opportunities. But 150 places is a lot, could be 300 children. Obviously they have the ratios but definitely won't have that family feel.
Nursery one slightly more convenient as we could walk there, but the other one is only a very short drive and is close to the train station.
Which would you go for?
In a similar situation we went for the purpose built. We had positive reviews of the nursery from several friends who are fairly picky, so for them to have had their kids in there for 3 years with no complaints we thought it must be good! Even though it's large (not quite as big as yours, approx 90 places), they're sectioned off into age groups. My DS is in the toddler room (1-2s) then there's a 2-3 room and then and pre school. So we still feel it has a personal touch. The staff are amazing and the food is all home cooked on site by the chef. If you haven't got any personal recommendations for either I'd just say go with your gut instinct for which is the beat setting for your child
How big is each room in the big one? Our first nursery before we moved was quite large but the rooms were small and the kids only mixed in the garden so were mostly just with their own room.
Do both have the same catering arrangements? I prefer nursery to cook for the children and them to eat together at the table rather than eat packed lunches.
Do both feed the same primaries? When we moved we had a choice between two but i discovered that one feeds 95% of their children to one specific primary which we're not in catchment for, I thought this might make transition a bit odd. We chose the one where the kids go equally to three different schools (including the one we'll go to).
How many children are in the rooms of the big one? More than 12 babies or 16 toddlers I'd say avoid. As much as you try to treat children as individuals in a big nursery, it just becomes crowd management and herding children in the end.
Lack of space for a child who loves space is certainly an issue.
Are there really no others?
I personally would go for the more homely-feeling one. Having worked in large nurseries previously, I prefer smaller ones. My current setting can take 40 children and I know every single one, I know their parents, siblings etc. I'd struggle to do that for well over 100 children! Also, there will be more staff and it sounds like it's more of a business than a nursery.
While I agree that you should choose the setting that you feel will suit your child, along with your gut instinct and convenience, I wanted to put a word in favour of a larger nursery.
While the larger nursery might feel impersonal at first glance, it would probably feel quite different for the children as they'll only know their room initially. Any good nursery will create an appropriate atmosphere and routine for the age of the children in each section.
Our daughter (now at school) went to quite a large nursery, but there were six different sections, so 'baby room 1' was only a handful of the littlest ones and covered up to 12-15 months - in fact, each section had a small number of children of very similar age. It felt very personal, with us knowing all the staff, and they were very flexible to our needs (eg the 'baby' SENCO was made our daughter's keyworker as she was premature), feeding/nap times etc). The same all the way through - the keyworker system worked very well, there were handovers between rooms and settling in sessions. There was never the slightest feeling of being lost in a system.
One advantage of a larger nursery is that if two or three members of staff are off sick, there would still be sufficient people to provide a full service and maintain ratios. Also, if there is a troublesome/dominant child in preschool they are more diluted, compared with a very small group. The range of staff gave more opportunities, and of course your child will 'click' better with some staff than with others. Systems and processes were of course followed, and in preschool the learning opportunities were excellent, with two members of staff recently achieving their degrees in early years childcare, and one of these (my daughter's keyworker) going the extra mile and making repeated efforts to discuss my daughter with her forthcoming reception teacher. We feel our daughter was very well prepared for school after being familiar with a busy preschool environment with a lot of learning opportunities provided.
I'm not knocking the smaller nurseries at all - just trying to describe the potential benefits of a good, larger nursery. Good luck with your choice!
My daughter has been in both. I did not like the large one as like someone else mentioned it's like crowd management. In the one she is in just now its a large concerted house with large garden. Only Aprox 40 places and split into three groups. Daughter is now 3 and has been there since 14 months. Every member of staff knows her and the relatives who collect her. She has came on leaps and bounds confidence wise and learning. They are able to spend time with each child to match their needs. They also cook all their own meals from scratch and the kids get a party for their birthday and a present. It's also a lot easier to drop my child off as she knows the staff so well and will go to them. It's an individual choice and depends what you want/need from your childcare. Try settling in days at both nurseries and see where your children prefer. Good luck
I wonder if you live close to me from the descriptions!
Mine were at a nursery that moved to a purpose built site, all very bright and clean but it had lost that homely feel, it just felt too big and too many children. We moved younger child (eldest started school) to another nursery, in a large house much fewer children - no regrets
My daughter is in a larger nursery and it has always been brilliant.
She loves it and all the staff talk to her by name as she wanders through the older classes before she reaches hers even though she doesn't spend any time with them as they are in different rooms.
They have 3 baby rooms (up to 1yr, 1yr - 18months, 18months to 2yrs) They have 2 toddler rooms and 2 pre school rooms. She has keyworker hand overs and taster days when she is due to move rooms and they don't automatically move at the age cut off, it is all done with other factors in mind.
I think come January they are changing the rooms as they will have more toddlers so are taking away 1 of the baby rooms and adding a toddler room to ensure that all the kids are nicely spread out with plenty of attention.
I think this is an advantage of a larger nursery that is well run.
The one we use have all food cooked on site using meat from a local butcher and veg from the greengrocers, it has been run by the same family for decades and the site is actually 2 houses that have been knocked through and converted.
I think you need to go for the one that feels right but if room to run and play are important to your kids you really need to take this into consideration.
We opted for the small, family run nursery. Not deliberately - it was the only nursery I viewed that I liked.
I'm so glad we made that choice. It's in a house and the rooms are small. The children all know each other - even in the other rooms. The staff know all the kids - Abd parents.it just has a lovely, caring atmosphere.
One of the girls said she worked in a much larger nursery previously and she really didn't enjoy it as she didn't get to know the kids in the same way.
Thanks all that responded. We have gone for the smaller nursery, came down to gut feel in the end as actually I think either of them would have been fine. We can walk to and from the smaller one so a scoot home should make up for the smaller outside space to a degree!
Aurorie - we are in north Yorks....