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Viewing a nursery. What should I look out for?

(9 Posts)
TallyHoAndToodlePip Mon 05-Dec-16 15:44:06

I've potentially picked out a nursery for my (first) baby and am due to go and have a look around in a few weeks before I put my name down on the waiting list. Our baby isn't born until next April and we won't need childcare until January/ February 2018 but they currently have a years waiting list.

I've picked this place because it's been established for over 25 years, is on my way to work and they cater to shift workers (very hard to come by in my area). It's perfect on paper and I really want to love it when DH and I go for a look around, but I'm also trying to keep an open mind.

In your collective experiences, are there any red flags I should look out for when I'm shown around? Or is there a tick list of things I should make sure I do/ don't see? Just trying to approach it logically and not let my heart take over my head as I can often get swept up in things like this!

Any advice would be greatly appreciated! Thanks! smile

comeagainforbigfudge Mon 05-Dec-16 16:15:09

We only really had a choice of one nursery (our circumstances made it very very difficult).

The biggest thing for me was how staff interacted with the children. So for instance they (nursery workers) were all sat on the floor, allowing the kids to crawl all over, giving them hugs, spontaneously bursting into song, reading books etc. One of the times we went for settling in sessions, one of the workers was just sat holding a baby as it was only way to get them to sleep they did put them down, just that they rocked them to sleep first

Staff changes - our nursery rotates staff between all rooms but they send a letter every so often to tell us, but very rarely does it say that staff are leaving.

KittensKidsAndKisses Mon 05-Dec-16 16:20:33

I would say to try and gage how happy the DC are there. Are they happy in themselves and how are the staff caring/ comforting any upset DC.

I would check the entrance/exit is always staffed/ manned. My lo got out of nursery once as a parent let themselves out and let my ds out too hmm-there was no staff on the door at the time. That swiftly changed!

Have a look at the routines.
What their meal plans are like.
What procedures they have in place for DC who have difficulty settling

I think in general you just get a 'feel' if the place is right for your lo.

Maybe have a look at a couple of other nurseries just to get a feel of them and then you have something to compare your first choice nursery to.

KittensKidsAndKisses Mon 05-Dec-16 16:22:06

Oh and a read of the ofsted report is always useful-if ofsted registered .

cudbywestrangers Mon 05-Dec-16 16:32:56

It's a while since I did this but remember feeling very daunted! I looked at 2 nurseries for ds1. There was nothing wrong with either but at the one I chose I liked the way the staff were dealing with the children, the fact that it's quite small and all the staff knew all the children, there are staff of various ages, the way the manager engaged with me about visiting, and then followed up for feedback. The other one was shiner and newer but it felt much more corporate (big chain), all the staff were very young and not so engaged with the children. Because it was bigger there were more staff in each room but that seemed to mean they talked to each other! Also look at menus and policies that are available as well as ofsted. And think about whether their approach suits yours. Ours is fairly structured with activities which is fine. We had friends who were very strict on routine (Gina ford) then chose a nursery that was all free flow and children literally did whatever they wanted (eg naps only if child goes and lies down). Perhaps unsurprisingly they ended up changing nursery after a few months.

girlelephant Mon 05-Dec-16 16:38:52

A few things:-

Most recent report
Staff - how long have staff been there/how many work there & how many children per staff member (ok to work to industry minimums but nice if they don't)
Are staff first aid trained, if so how many?
Outside area, is is safe/interesting and well-maintained
How much time and how often do they get outside and what do they do there
Sickness policy (usually 48 hours of no symptoms)
Cost/fee structure and flexibility
Food policy - what are menus like/do they has an inhouse chef etc
Can they support with weaning/toilet training and if so how
What's the general vibe? Do staff seem happy and engaged? Do children seem engaged?
Medicine policy- one nursery I went to expected us to go there to give calpol during our working day as they had a procedure not to dispense any form of medication!
What does a typical day look like? I would ask about the baby room and toddler room to give you a feel for the future
Do they have any experts/themes etc? Our nursery has external music teachers and a language teacher who comes in weekly to do a class

TallyHoAndToodlePip Mon 05-Dec-16 18:44:08

Thank you very much everyone! smile I think I'm going to make a list of questions to ask based on your recommendations and take those with me, as well as observing the staff and how they handle the kids.

Theor latest Ofsted report is on their website so I'll give that a read too.

It's a bit daunting to be considering nurseries before baby has even arrived. Feels like I've already written off the next year. It got me thinking about maternity leave too and how it'll almost be over for me this time next year. I hope it doesn't go as quick as it feels it will sad

MissClarke86 Sun 15-Jan-17 19:18:16

I've just put my name down on a waiting list and I'm in basically the same position as you! Baby due March, will need childcare from January.

I chose ours because the owner is related to my colleague and used to be a teacher - it's nice to have a character reference! We were invited to come and look around whenever we wanted without prior notice - they couldn't not then falsely prepare for our arrival.

The staff all seemed nice (and not too young) and were interacting with the babies which was the main thing I was looking for. I worked in a nursry when I was younger and there was a lot of young, temp staff who just really weren't bothered. I know not all young staff are like that but I'd still rather see staff that aren't all under 20.

The hours suit my working hours and it's close to home for dropping off etc.

It's also standalone and not part of a chain. I'm a teacher working in an academy and know how much tripe is passed down from the academy chain, so I think it's important the manager gets to make her own decisions based on the children she has in her care.

The baby room was actually smaller than I expected but that really doesn't matter that much to me.

EsmesBees Sun 15-Jan-17 19:27:10

Keep an eye on security procedures. How do they make sure only parents enter the building. Is there anyway a crafty toddler could escape? I remember looking at one (on a A road!) Which had two gates. Except the first wasn't locked and the second was closed but could be opened by an easily turnable latch.

The other thing to look for is the number of babies in bouncy chairs/walkers etc. Not being interactived with. I noticed that some nurseries relied on them more than others.

I would also recommend posting on your local FB parents group or similar to ask for parents` feedback.

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