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Can anyone help me choose between two nurseries?? Please??

(44 Posts)
Rowlers Fri 21-Jan-05 10:31:40

God this is so hard.
I must be one of the least decisive people on this earth.
Been looking at nurseries with a view to taking a part-time place for DD from September.
Looked at 3.
Dismissed one straight away - just felt wrong somehow.
There are two others which both appear to be very good.
The first is quite a large converted Victorian "warehouse" type building with large rooms, all very clean and tidy and bright. Charges £32.50 a day, £18.50 for a morning or afternoon only slot.
Menu looked nice - mainly veggie and chicken, all food freshly cooked on premises. Snacks fresh fruit.
Staff seemed to be a mix but mainly young women.
Didn't see many children, no idea where they all were.
This one had quite a large indoor play room too.
Was shown round by deputy manager - took around 20-25 minutes.
Friend has her son there currently and is very happy with them, finds it quite "free" in philosophy.
The other place was much more "professional" in showing me round. Was there for an hour 15 minutes, spoke to the manager, was shown round rooms by different staff. DD sat with the other children and played while I looked round. She sat happily and chewed on a plastic toy and smiled at me every time I caught her eye.
Was shown a "typical" example of a day - seemed very regimented - change of activity every 1/2 hour or so.
Menu looked just as good, again cooked on premises. They claimed to give fresh fruit as snacks but I did see platefulls of biscuits at one point.
This one is cheaper, £31 a day, £18 for a morning and £16 an afternoon.
Children all looked happy and engaged.
Building is a seventies built extended family home so groups were separated from each other quite clearly.
Also have friends with babies there who are happy with the place.
The first would be more convenient for dropping off and picking up.
Both had similar outdoor play areas and trips to parks etc.
Sorry - using this as a way of thinking aloud.
Has anyone got any astute observations or questions whichj would help focus my mind on this? I'm finding it so hard ....

Hausfrau Fri 21-Jan-05 10:34:19

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

Angeliz Fri 21-Jan-05 10:34:48

Straight away for some reason the second one appeals to me.
The fact that you didn't see many children and no-one explained why AND the fact that some of your freinds children are happy with the second both stood out to me.
As did the fact that your dd seemed happy there, (and a biscuit ain't that bad ).

Good luck++++++

flashingnose Fri 21-Jan-05 10:36:12

Any idea what staff turnover is like?

TBH, they both sound great and the fact that you know people with children at both and they're happy is fantastic. I'd probably end up going with the one that was most convenient.

Pamina3 Fri 21-Jan-05 10:36:51

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

lockets Fri 21-Jan-05 10:37:04

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Rowlers Fri 21-Jan-05 10:41:22

Poo, I knew this would happen, equal votes for them both!!! - thank you all so much for reading that mammoth post in the first place.
Trouble is I really don't have a massive gut feeling drawing me to one or the other, that's the problem.
convenience wise, there is only really 5 mins in it.
Here's something I didn't mention, the second one only takes children up to the age of 3. After that, they go to a different place, run by the same people and only a minute away. The manageress told me the children like this as they feel they are not going to baby nusery anymore. Would this make a difference?? I haven't looked round this place...

Marina Fri 21-Jan-05 10:41:55

Staff turnover is a good point, check that carefully at both places, and if you get any sense you're being fobbed off, chances are it's unacceptably high. Tip: find the noticeboard which shows the staff photos (there is usually one) old are the snaps? Does it look peppered with blutak stains/drawing pin holes? Does it look like it gets changed a lot?
I agree they both sound nice but in my years of checking out nurseries for my two I have always gone with the one where you had plenty of chance to see the children in action and the staff interacting with them.
Turn up on spec at both of them. See how they respond. A good nursery will not be defensive about you just "dropping by".

flashingnose Fri 21-Jan-05 10:42:35

Definitely go and look - it may well swing it one way or the other.

Marina Fri 21-Jan-05 10:45:23

We moved house partly to be nearer to our chosen nurseries too Pamina. But we still walk past one we felt hesitant about to get dd to the one we preferred...only five minutes on foot in it, mind.
Moving to a different premises at 3 is not a big issue I'd have thought, rowlers. Provided it is sensitively managed it does have a logic. Dd's nursery children cross the path to a different building at 2.5 and become "pre-schoolers". It seems to work well.

Rowlers Fri 21-Jan-05 10:49:03

Thank you again, crikey, Marina super nusery sleuth, it didn't even cross my mind to look for drawing pin marks. Must polish up my observation skills.

Marina Fri 21-Jan-05 10:51:19

Hope it helps Rowlers.

Pamina3 Fri 21-Jan-05 10:52:21

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

HappyMumof2 Fri 21-Jan-05 14:02:16

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Casmie Fri 21-Jan-05 14:11:16

I would be nervous of any nursery that didn't show you around when the children were there, tbh. Second sounds lovely - especially as your dd was happy playing while you looked around (that was the big clue that both nurseries ds1 has been in were good - the ones where he clung to my side I dismissed immediately).

PrettyCandles Fri 21-Jan-05 14:17:00

The fact that you didn't see many children and (I presume) your dd didn't have a chance to interact with other children or the staff counts against the first nursery, to my mind. When I visited nurseries ds was made very welcome and involved - even when I visited a school nursery for ds to go to when he turned 4 and brought dd 20m along, dd was included by the staff. If you are really interested int he first nursery - and convenience is important - I would visit it again. It could be that you happened to come at a time when the children were on an outing, or doing a particular activity that took them away from your tour. Also, you should try to chat with staff other than the manager and to try to divert from her 'tour' - see how she reacts.

Rowlers Fri 21-Jan-05 17:37:20

This has given me a lot to think about!
Thank you v much for your input everyone.
I have now looked around the 2nd nursery's second building for the older ones and it seemed very nice and well run. Again staff were welcoming without being OTT.
Onle issue for me here is that they wear a uniform from the age of 3. Personally not keen on that but is that so much of a big deal? Dunno.
Have now spoken to other mums from my baby group who are sending their children to the second nursery. They are all very pleased with the place. Only criticism was lack of feedback on a day-to-day basis on what child has done during the day, how they have been etc. But they did admit that their DHs picked up their children which could explain that - i.e. not thinking to ask!
One friend who lives very near the first has commented that she sees the staff around with the little'uns ans she thinks they all look very young and a bit erm, common. (It's VERY middle class round here darling)
Have decided that I need to look again and take DP with me. Am hoping that will finalise things.
Will be on the lookout for children in the first and signs of drawing pin movement.

flashingnose Fri 21-Jan-05 17:58:55

dd1's nursery doesn't have a uniform but has a nursery sweatshirt. I'm actually very happy about this because she can douse it in paint etc to her heart's content (so many clothes ruined by so-called washable paint/playdough )

merglemergle Fri 21-Jan-05 18:03:45

Have you thought of posting the names of the two nurseries on here and seeing if anyone has any feedback? Or asking around on the "mummy circuit"? Or getting the ODSTED reports?

HappyMumof2 Fri 21-Jan-05 18:38:40

Message withdrawn

Rowlers Fri 21-Jan-05 19:04:20

Have read Ofsted reports on both. I have to admit that I found it quite hard to come to a decision based on this info. Both read in a similar way - good reports with minor areas for improvement.
Manager of 2nd has been there 15 years - I asked if she planned to leave and she said she would retire from there. I took that as a good thing as she came accross as very savvy.
The first place, well a deputy manager showed me round, a bit inanimate.
Just a bit worried that the second place is very good at marketing itself and I'm being influenced by this.
Interesting to hear views on the uniform. Hadn't thought of it like that before. Good points made. Ta.

Rarrie Fri 21-Jan-05 19:32:17

Okay, call me mrs A retentive, but these were the questions I asked when I put my l.o. into nursery...

1) How will you engage my child during the day? What activities will you provide? I found some nuseries did no more than simply provide a child (1 year) with 4 baskets of plastic toys a day. Other nurseries provide a main play activity a day such as water play, cutting and sticking and a range of different stuff as well, like heuristic play. Ask to see their planning - do they have long and mid term plans of activities?

2) Is there anything else that you would like to see? For example, I do baby sign, as does my nursery... other nurseries do yoga and massage. Some do nothing!

3) Do they follow a sure start 0 - 2 programme? What about the older children? Is there a qualified teacher (with QTS) in the 3-5s? (Rare, but they do exist if you look hard enough!!)

4) Would you want your child to interact with the older children at all? I did, and at my dds nursery, they do come together in the middle bit every now and then!

5) Does the size of the nursery matter to you? I didn't want my dd to go to a big nursery - so where she s at, there's only 6 1- 2s usually, and I've never seen more than 9. At one nursery they have 40 babies, over conjoining rooms!

6) What about the role of the key worker? Is it important to you that your child has one key worker? (And this would also bring in questions about staff turnover)

7) What about sleeping? Is it important to you that your child has her own cot? Or are you happy to have a pool system? Do you want the cots in a separate room or not?

8) Staff experience - is that important to you? For example, I didn't want a nursery full of young girls who had no children of their own - My dds nursery has a mix of older mums and younger girls. Personally I'd be cautious of a nursery full of 18 year old carers.

9) What about their approaches to child care? For example, I don't like Controlled crying, so would not send my child to a nursery that used it? What would they do if your child would not go to sleep? Would they respect your wishes to things like dummy use (only when asleep, in my case!) stuff like that. Also routine, do they follow yours or theirs? What if your child was asleep at meal time?

10) Generally, have a look around - did you see the carers cuddling and interacting with the children or mainly chatting to themselves? How quickly did they respond to a child crying? Or did they ignore the child to talk to you? (Those nurseries were struck right off my list!) Were the children happy and confident? Did they seem to have a good relationship with the staff?

Um there were loads more questions I asked, about diet and stuff, but I can't seem to remember them at present...

Hope this helps!!

leglebegle Fri 21-Jan-05 19:42:42

don't know if this helps but my ds1 went to a nursery in london which sounds like your nursery number 1 and now goes to one in the north west which sounds like nursery number 2. at first i thought he was never going to fit in as it seemed so regimented. everything planned, everything changed every half an hour. the children (aged 2 - 3 ) even had debating time !! But he loves it. He has thrived on the structure and routine and his speech is second to none. Just shows I underestimated him. I'm so glad he's there now and he debates quite happily !

Twiglett Fri 21-Jan-05 19:45:42

First One .. but go back and see it with the children in place

haven't read any of the other posts but my guts say there is plenty time for 'regimented activity' when they start school and pre-school is a time to be organised but not regimented

Rowlers Fri 21-Jan-05 19:57:23

Oh Twiglett, I'm back to square one now!
Rarrie, great questions. I'm going to print this off and take it with me next week.
Did have a look today at the pics of staff at the second nursery's building for the older ones. They had 2 PGCE / BED trained teachers in the pre-school room. Didn't look in the other place.
Didn't see any drawing pin marks but I think they were cunningly blu-taked instead.

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