large nurseries =more impersonal and less nurturing?(14 Posts)
I'm looking for some advice/opinions from others who are a bit further along the line. I am looking at nurseries for DC1 to start at 11 months. I have so far seen 1 tiny one (about 20 children) near my work and 1 huge one (100 children) near our home. I wasn't expecting to be so put off by the size of the large nursery, there were so many staff moving around, and it just felt much more hectic - even on a Friday in August.
As the larger one is near our home we had decided it would be much more convenient for us, but I'm worried a child could feel a bit lost and would be better in an environment with less children/staff that would be quieter and more personal. The tour also was not as "polished" as the smaller one, which may have contributed to my impression.
Any views/experiences appreciated! There are some other options locally that are smaller which I could look into as well, but I'm just wondering if there are actually some plus points to a larger nursery too?
More staff cover, more expertise amongst staff, 20 children and a small nursery more at risk if they don't fill the spaces but larger one more able to absorb a vacancy, more resources, more chance for your child to socialise with people from different backgrounds, more toys...
I had a very similar decision to make as you (although that was about 3 years ago now). I firmly believe it's about how the parents feel at that age.
It's the gut reaction you're looking for. Do you feel comfortable in the environment, does it welcome you when you cross the threshold? Can you imagine spending time there yourself, with your baby? Would you feel comfortable phoning during the day to check-in? Are the staff engaged with the children - do they seem to work well together?
All parents will have a different sense of what appeals to them and ultimately with an 11 month old, your gut feeling is very important over second guessing a child's reaction. Children generally adapt to their surroundings as they become familiar with it.
Go with your gut. If you change your mind later, change your childcare arrangements: nothing is set in stone at that age.
I found childcare near work was better for me. Depends how long your commute is, but I valued the 15mins each way in the car with DS- we chatted and pointed stuff out to one another. I also liked that I was with him 5 mins after I left work.
My DD went to a large nursery. Ultimately we found it was better as it was divided into 5 distinct groups in rooms and outdoor play with their own experienced staff - baby room, tots, toddlers, early learners and pre-school.
The large nursery also had a big field, playground, play frame, and lots of trikes and ride-ons. They are outside in all weathers so this is important.
Friends with children at much smaller nurseries said their children got bored of the same space for 3-4 years.
Thanks very for all the responses and good luck wishes! I suppose it probably was a gut feel that I am going on which is that I preferred the small nursery to the larger one, with this being the main difference between them. I was totally expecting to find the large nursery fine and just sign up today but couldn't quite bring myself to do this.
They both had three different rooms/sections for babies/toddlers/preschoolers. The problem with the one near my work is that it is in central London and although the morning trains are usually ok, the evening trains are sometimes all packed. I would also not be able to share drop off/pick ups and have to do both ends, and I've been told I'll appreciate the downtime on the train journey to/from work if I'm on my own! i think I'm going to have to look at a few more and hopefully find a smaller one near our home, but the pressure is on with the waiting lists in our area!
I was advised to pick a nursery near home because it does give you more flexibility. No way would I want a small, tired child on a train commute every day. Plus, if you're unwell or general day off they can still go to care if you aren't up to looking after them yourself.
What if you change jobs? Finding a new centre on short(ish) notice could be painful...
As for your original question of big vs small, it's more to do with your gut feelings. Yes, large centres have lots of children and teachers, but your child will have their own key worker and you will probably find they do lots of small group activities with them throughout the day.
DS2 goes to a large nursery/preschool and it has been very nurturing for him - his key worker is absolutely fantastic and has really helped him come out of his shell. DS1 went to a smaller nursery but one that was part of a nationwide chain - that was much more impersonal and looking back I wish I'd moved him earlier. It really does depend on what feel you get from the nursery, but don't let size put you off.
Also, if this is DC1, do you have plans at this stage for any more DCs? If so would you want to have to travel into London to take DC1 to nursery while on MAT leave?
I'm a big fan of larger nurseries, our DD has been to two (moved as we moved house). When they are babies, particularly PFB you can feel a bit panicky about them going into that environment, but they adapt so quickly and then they generally love it. More opportunities to engage with other kids, more space etc. Our current nursery is spacious and purpose built, and has an enormous outdoor area. I know a few people who put their babies in small nurseries then moved them when they were older as they felt they had 'outgrown' the space and needed to get more out of their nursery day. If you are happy with the standard of care at the big one, I would take the plunge.
I went with my gut and a small nursery. Distances were the same. The staff looked bored and disconnected from kids in the big one, but in the smaller one all staff know all the children, and there seems to be less turnover. We've been happy with our choice, but expect they all differ.
Good points about being unwell, as well as the odd day when I might arrange to work from home - local nursery definitely would be better. Thanks for the feedback on the pros of large nurseries - it's definitely made me realise that this alone should not put me off.
If you didn't get a good feeling about that one, but want to stay near home, then keep looking.
It is not about the size, it's about your gut feeling.Go with your gut. I have worked in childcare for 20 years, it sounds incredibly unscientific but your gut feeling is the one to follow.
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