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Questions to ask when visiting a potential nursery ?

(29 Posts)
Emily312 Fri 23-Aug-19 08:26:10

Just that really smile

OP’s posts: |
GeorgieTheGorgeousGoat Fri 23-Aug-19 08:27:25

What sort of things matter to you?

Emily312 Fri 23-Aug-19 08:40:06

@GeorgieTheGorgeousGoat I'm trying not to be OTT about it, my son is 15 months and I'm nervous about him going so just want to know sensible questions to ask.

OP’s posts: |
tmh88 Fri 23-Aug-19 08:49:48

I would ask more practical things such as do you need to bring nappies and wipes, calpol etc. Our nursery supplies their own calpol they will use for teething/temps etc rather than have dozens of different children’s bottles but some want you to bring it. They also supply wipes but not nappies.
What age his room goes up to and how many go on the days he’s there.
That’s all I really needed to ask as they usually tell you about what they’ll do with regards to keyworkers and observation files etc! Obviously if not ask! It’s nerve wracking and I looked round a few but got a really good gut feeling at the last one I looked at! Good luck! Also a couple I looked round were extremely staged they all had these high pitched voices and it smelt really chemically DP said well it’s definitely clean and she tried backtracking and saying they don’t usually clean when the kids are here and then got flustered saying but we haven’t cleaned because we have someone coming round, anyway I’m glad I trusted my gut not to go there as they have just got ofsted inadequate for things like hygiene and no choice of freeplay!

GeorgieTheGorgeousGoat Fri 23-Aug-19 11:40:02

Huh? Where did I say you were being OTT? I think you’ve read my message completely wrong! I literally mean, what things are important to you? Organic food? Qualifications? Cost? Outdoor space? Organised activates?

No idea what you think I meant with my message confused

SpaceDinosaur Sat 24-Aug-19 15:52:33

We're just about to start nursery and I viewed a few.

Make sure you go through the website carefully before you go. Confirm the important details to the staff when they show you around. Eg "I know you provide bedding/mats for nap times where are these set up please" this helped me to rule out a couple of nurseries because if there's no area away from the main play space my child wouldn't nap. The one we chose is a L shaped room for her age group offering a little "nap area"

I asked how much time and access the children had to the gardens. To see that week's menu.
Nappies milk etc was not of interest/relevant to us but if it were I would have had a conversation about it.

What additional activities they have? (Baby Sign, dance, football, french etc)

Stand and observe the room for at least 5 minutes. You get a feel

littlestrawby Sat 24-Aug-19 16:40:08

@GeorgieTheGorgeousGoat I don't think she thought you said she was being ott, she was just saying that as part of her answer to your question.

I'd agree with the previous poster, maybe ask to see a sample of their weekly menu and look at their outdoor space, also good to know what they do in terms of trips out of the nursery. Sleeping arrangements def a big thing to check.

I found it really hard to know what to ask as well!

Stephypie Mon 26-Aug-19 14:48:33

Ok, as an experienced Early Years Manager here are some questions that may help :

Before you go google Ofsted and type in the nursery you are looking at this will tell you if there has been any complaints or compliance issues as well as the grading (avoid requires improving and inadequate)
If I was visiting I would look for:
Staff interaction - are they happy? Interacting with the children?
A clean nursery
Security- how do you access/exit the building?
Children- are they happy? Engaged in play?
Resources - what are the toys/resources like (natural resources are better and more open ended)
Menus- nutrition? How important is this to the nursery? Are meals prepared on site?
What was their last Ofsted inspection?
What are their plans for improvement?
How do they safeguard children? Who is the designated safeguarding lead?
What are the staff qualifications? (Manager should be at least level 3, there should be a mix throughout nursery of qualified staff)
What are the ratios ( there should be 1:3 in babies, 1:4 in toddlers and 1:8 in preschool)
How many staff have 12 hour paediatric first aid?
Finally early provision should be based around play, lots of research to suggest that a formal curriculum does more harm than good
Hope this helps a little 😃

Her0utdoors Mon 26-Aug-19 14:56:17

How is undesirable behaviour managed. Is it just time out by another name?
What is the atmosphere in the rooms? Do staff make eye contact/greet you?
Is the room well played in, but not messy to the point of being hazardous?
Is written language used in displays grammatically correct?
Does the staff member who answers the phone introduce themselves and the nursery, rather than just grunt?
Are they able to be flexible with naps to meet your child's naps?

seven201 Mon 26-Aug-19 15:03:30

What's the staff turn over.
Sickness policy. One thing that annoys me about my dad's nursery is they won't give calpol and are against teething gel etc. They think distraction is best, which I'm not against but when dd was a teething baby she didn't/couldn't nap at nursery as her gums hurt! I even filled in a medical form saying to give teething gel for naps, but months later her key worker didn't even know they held teething gel for her - it hadn't even been opened!

seven201 Mon 26-Aug-19 15:03:59

Dd's not dad's!

Elmo311 Mon 26-Aug-19 23:07:10

Thank you everyone for your comments! Really useful questions which will help me pick the right place smile

itsaboojum Tue 27-Aug-19 08:40:52

"What sort of things matter to you?"

I completely see what Georgie is getting at. If it matters to you, then ask it. Too many people don’t ask what they mistakenly think they’re asking 'a silly question ' and the result is they get anxious or in a pickle.

A lot of the questions parents ask (or are told to ask on threads like this) are not necessary. If they weren’t doing the right thing over numbers, safeguarding, first aid, and so on then they simply wouldn’t be allowed to operate as registered childcare providers.

Take Ofsted grades with a pinch of salt. Their inspection regime I shall widely considered to be methodology flawed, producing very inconsistent and inaccurate results. Much of what they look for is a million miles from what parents want from childcare.

Don’t be too worried about staff qualifications either. . It’s likely to make very little difference, no matter how much people within the childcare industry love to obsess about it. The evidence is that qualifications and Ofsted grades make no significant difference in terms of outcomes for children.

The key is to make sure that your expectations are in line with those of the nursery. Most of the disagreements we see on these boards come about when something has happened and parents have just assumed things were going to be handled their way.

Don’t overlook the business side of things, even if contracts, policies, etc seem dull. Disagreements tend to arise mainly over payments, sickness, absence, etc. Often it’s a parent disputing something they actually agreed to in the contract.

Elmo311 Tue 27-Aug-19 19:47:41

@itsaboojum You're right. Thank you

Sauvignonblanket Tue 27-Aug-19 20:20:43

As well as other things I asked when they last called an ambulance and what for.

GeorgieTheGorgeousGoat Tue 27-Aug-19 20:52:07

What the hell has that got to do with the price of fish? confused

Not least, it could be confidential to the child or adult involved.

Sauvignonblanket Tue 27-Aug-19 23:18:32

Checking out worst case scenarios isn't a comfortable topic but while you hope everything will be fine and it usually is, you're placing a lot of trust in a team that is at first unknown so something about handling emergencies rather than training, as well as the day to day isn't that odd. An ambulance call for choking for example might be an alarm bell - the way it was talked about would also be a steer. Obviously I wouldn't expect an answer that compromised confidentiality. It was probably over the top and not for everyone but the answers were helpful and reassuring.

itsaboojum Wed 28-Aug-19 08:26:01

"What the hell has that got to do with the price of fish?"

Presumably it was the sort of thing that mattered to her.

7Worfs Tue 10-Sep-19 20:16:14

I’m visiting a nursery tomorrow as I’ll be placing my baby when he is 7mo old. So far I’ve come up with these questions for the baby room:

What is the daily routine in the room
Staff ratio
Naps- how do they work if babies cry, wake up, can’t self settle
Confirm they never leave babies crying alone
Any major and minor incidents in the last 3 years

Anything crucial I’m missing? I want my baby to be safe, no incidents, napping often and no crying and left alone...

ChildminderMum Tue 10-Sep-19 20:41:55

Any major and minor incidents in the last 3 years
What kind of answers are you expecting to this? I would be a bit stumped if someone asked me this!

7Worfs Tue 10-Sep-19 20:47:18

Well hopefully they haven’t had anything major that required emergency interventions.
For minor I want to see if stuff like head bumps, falls etc happen and how often, and what did they do to improve.

Are those unusual enquiries from parents?

Elmo311 Tue 10-Sep-19 22:12:21


So we visited a few nurseries and it's true, you just get 'the' feeling! There were some that were fine, I felt ok about them (like, he wouldn't die there ) but I didn't want to just feel 'ok' about it.

I was so worried too but we did two weeks of settling in sessions that were harder on me than him, and since then he's been doing well.
He doesn't nap for as long there, so it means the evenings are hell with a grumpy toddler but I feel that he is well looked after there, and he is happy.
The other kids look happy too.

Nobody wants their child to be left to scream etc so I hope they won't do that.
We did cry it out with our son from 7 months, and we were worried that the nursery would 'ruin' this as they sit with all the babies and pat their backs until they fall asleep. He gets patted there, which I think is the extra reassurance he needs but he still goes down to sleep at home just fine by himself.

You'll find the right place!

UBeaut Tue 10-Sep-19 22:21:46

When are they closed. That's what I would ask if I were to do it again!

Elmo311 Tue 10-Sep-19 23:12:04

@UBeaut did you choose one that closed for school holidays ?!

Joloupic2019 Wed 11-Sep-19 07:35:13

Ask all the things that will put your mind at ease, and that are important to you.
I always ask about the curriculum they follow as good teachers will answer the eyfs and go into it with ease. I also ask about the ratio of staff to children.
If they don't know then that makes me uneasy.
I always also ask about the toileting arrangements. And ofsted grading.

As a nursery worker I've seen that the parents who are fussy get treated well and children are fine, as no one wants to give a fussing parent a reason to complain etc, I know that shouldn'tbe the way but it is

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