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Help - which nursery do I choose?

(17 Posts)
Cathster Sun 14-May-17 21:32:07

My DD currently goes to one of these nurseries, I'm thinking of moving her to the other but as my first experience of nurseries, I don't really know if my expectations are realistic, so any advise would be really appreciated!

Nursery 1 - Small setting - 12 children max in the room, quite confined rooms that look 'well worn' and to be honest, a bit grubby. Activities that the children are currently interested in are out for playing with at any time, e.g. sandpits, pots and pans etc. Free access to the garden whenever they want. 4 week rotating meal plan with options for those with allergies (DD is dairy free). Only other rooms apart from the main group rooms are a very small sensory room (more like a cupboard!) and a soft play centre across the road.

Nursery 2 - larger setting, groups split up into smaller age ranges so more transitioning between rooms. Their own soft play and sensory rooms. Lots of open space for kids to play in, climbing frames indoors etc. Limited activities available, kids tend to do their own thing and just play with toys in the room. Meal plan limited for those with allergies, and access to the garden restricted to sunny days.

It's probably obvious which nursery DD currently goes to, but I'm just interested to know people's thoughts and how these might compare to others experiences? This is based on the toddler rooms.

strikhedonia Mon 15-May-17 11:55:13

I don't believe in "sensory room", I hate these pretentious names for mundane items/toys/play.

I prefer as much as outdoor space as possible in theory, but it really depends on the frequency your child attends nursery. If it's only a couple of days a week, that gives you the rest of the week to take them to parks / play in garden so it's not that important.

My own kids were much happier in a setting with enough structure, and a nice mix of activities and free play. Nursery 1 sounds a lot better for me, you make nursery 2 sounds like a soft play which is not what would have been best for mine.

MusicToMyEars800 Mon 15-May-17 12:04:27

I think nursery 1 sounds better tbh, I have worked in nurseries and garden play was never restricted unless it was chucking it down with rain, Limited activities doesn't sound great either. Also, all the nurseries I have worked in we planned activities such as, shaving foam play, cornflour play, body painting and so on, The rooms don't need to me massive as long as there's space for them to roam around and if they have access to the garden they have plenty of space?

StarHeartDiamond Mon 15-May-17 12:09:39

Ideally both the nurseries should be running specific activities as well as free play e.g. Number and letter fun lessons, singing groups, creative lessons where they are encouraged to make a specific item etc, as well as lots of free play.

Personally I would choose nursery 2 if there are more facilities and the organisation seems better and there's more space.

I find very small independent nurseries who haven't updated their toys or decorated or clean throughly in a long time are also behind the times or not up to date on safety requirements, trip hazards, risk assessments etc.

StarHeartDiamond Mon 15-May-17 12:15:46

Although nursery 2 - garden restricted to sunny days? At my ds's nursery, all the children have their own wellies on a shows rack by the door so they can still play out if damp/has been raining.

But for nursery 1 - you need to ask what the staff arrangements are for when the children are freely going in and out of the garden. Who keeps an eye on the children? Is the garden safe - check for exposed brickwork, broken fencing, trip hazards, toys that have regularly been inspected etc. Free garden play is a prime time for toddlers to have accidents and tbh if they are as grubby/scruffy as you say then I bet their safety procedures are lacking somewhere. Do not assume that in today's day and age they have thoroughly risk assessed or even thought about safety with common sense.
It has nothing to do with the ofsted rating either.

StarHeartDiamond Mon 15-May-17 12:19:29

Oh and finally - don't fall into the inverse snobbery trap as it were that a grubby well-worn nursery somehow shows they are too focussed on the children to be cleaning, replacing old toys etc, or that it is charming in an old-fashioned way like a little cottage nursery, whereas anything more corporate is too money-focussed, too appearance focussed and not child focussed enough.

It doesnt and it isn't. Bitter experience here.

MusicToMyEars800 Mon 15-May-17 12:28:33

Star You have hit the nail on the head, in all the ones I worked in, cleanliness was key, we sterilised all books and toys once a week as well as deep cleans and risk assessments every week too, play was structured and once a week MAD ( music and dance ) came in to do a session with the kids. There should always me a member of staff in the garden when children are out there and it should be in line with the adult to child ratio eg: for babies/toddlers aged 3months to 2 years it should be 1 adult to 3 children.

StarHeartDiamond Mon 15-May-17 12:35:36

Music - in one nursery I viewed, thevgarden was always open to children (age 2-3). I asked what the staff arrangements were. They said that whenever children went out, a staff member would go out as well. Sounds great but when we viewed the garden there were two 3yo playing out on their own, no staff member in sight, because of course they hadn't been spotted going out to the garden by any staff member.
Same garden had rusted metal plant brackets placed all along the brick wall at, ooh, chin level for the average 3yo.

Garden was also accessed by stone steps going down.

Free play was more of a free for all when I visited, with 2-3 kids in groups hurling themselves around the different areas with no supervision, knocking over chairs etc and getting very silly, this was apparently them expressing themselves.

I said no.

MusicToMyEars800 Mon 15-May-17 12:44:49

shock That is awful, the last nursery I worked in, we didn't allow the children to roam out, we would have set time in the garden, and if it was a nice warm sunny day there would be staff in the garden and staff inside that would rotate throughout the day. There were also no steps in the garden, We had to do daily risk assessments for the garden too, just to be safe.

StarHeartDiamond Mon 15-May-17 13:10:57

Your nurseries sound fab, Music!

Amazing how much assumption there can be that "of course" children are being properly supervised, toys are safe, children are occupied etc.

I bet if a child at the last nursery I mentioned had an accident in the garden unsupervised, the unsupervised but would not be mentioned to the parent.

At the last "charmingly grubby" nursery o removed my ds from, he was constantly in the accident book with bumps, scrapes etc.

New nursery? (Corporate type, very efficient). Hardly at all. The main reason being more space for starters and therefore less hazards for falls and trips. Also the supervision is far better and the grounds and toys are well maintained. They have laid AstroTurf on the toddlers main play area to soften falls with some hardstanding left for tricycles etc.

This is the sort of thing that corporate nurseries do as they are usually linked in to the latest ways of doing things, always looking for improvements etc, rather than getting stuck in a time warp which small independents that have had the same owner for 30 years can do.

This is some not all and just my personal experience. Not saying all independents are crap and all corporates are great. Just that you need to have your eyes and ears open for both and ask a lot of questions.

MusicToMyEars800 Mon 15-May-17 13:56:59

Good advice Star I second that just be aware of all the surroundings and don' be afraid to ask lots of questions, it's the nurseries job to make sure that you are comfortable and assured and that you know that your child will be in a happy and safe environment where they will be well cared for. And give all nurseries a chance, both private and state.

Cathster Mon 15-May-17 17:58:15

Thank you all for your comments, it's really helpful to get others experiences!

DD is currently in nursery 2 and we are considering moving her to nursery 1, but the appearance is off putting. There are only 2 in the local area so it's one or the other - I did have a CM lined up but that's fallen through unfortunately!

Nursery 1 said that there was a staff member in the garden at all times as long as it wasn't chucking it down, but surely they don't hang around out there if there's no children, so I'll ask about that again. I didn't get to look round the garden when I visited due to horrendous weather so I'll have a look again when she goes for a trial session.

Nursery 2 have serious issues with staff to child ratio ATM, there are several times that myself and a friend have dropped our children off to a room of about 10 toddlers and 2 staff, quite often trainees too. They do not do any activities past painting (that we hear about anyway) and occasionally take turns in groups going out in the garden for 20 minutes.

Both nurseries are part of a chain.

MusicToMyEars800 Tue 16-May-17 00:10:18

OP, these nurseries sound pretty rubbish tbh, have you checked the ofsted reports? There's nothing wrong with trainees (though they aren't allowed to be alone with the children without a CRB/DBS, it's how they learn and it's how I started out but I don't agree with the child to adult ratio you've stated, it should be: 1 adult to 4 children for 2 year olds, i'm guessing that's the age range you are talking about?

Cathster Tue 16-May-17 06:22:35

Both Ofsted reports are rated good. confused

They're not quite 2 yet (age range is 15 mo-2 yo) so should still be 1:3!

I agree that there's nothing wrong with trainees and everyone has to start somewhere, but when they're the only staff in the room it doesnt feel right to me.

MusicToMyEars800 Thu 18-May-17 13:13:35

It's not a problem as long as they are CRB/DBS checked and have their paediatric first aid training etc, We as trainees weren't allowed to be left alone with the children until we had all of this. I imagine you live rurally if those are the only 2 nurseries close to you? Where I live there are, about 8 nurseries within a 1 mile radius, most of them are closer than that.

AStickInTime Thu 18-May-17 13:20:21

We chose our childcare according to the staff rather than the premises. So many establishments had posh everything but was run by staff who were unwelcoming when we looked around. The place we chose wasn't brilliant for looks but the staff were amazing and the atmosphere was so confidence inspiring, we knew immediately that there was no choice to be made!

MusicToMyEars800 Thu 18-May-17 13:26:19

Stick That's it, and the nurseries are mostly safe, apart from the odd ones of course. I have come across some nursery nurses that are just not suited for that type of role, I've reported some to the management too, as their behaviour just wasn't right, It really takes a passion and love for working with children unfortunately some childcare staff just don't have that.

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