Nurseries - what to look for(15 Posts)
I'm beginning to think about childcare for DS when I return to work in April, and have called a few day nurseries to make appointments to look around.
As ive never done this before, I have no idea what im looking for! Can anyone please give me any pointers as to what i should be looking for - whats good, what should be waving a red flag and what is a definate no-no
DS will be 8 months old
I found it was largely a gut feeling. I visited 2, both recommend by several friends whose kids go there. Went round the first and felt really uncomfortable, couldn't imagine leaving my DS there. Went to the second and from the moment we walked in both DH and I felt totally different to the first place.
There was nothing really wrong with the first place and it's a popular and respected nursery in our area. I couldn't even say what it was they I didn't like about it. But we loved the second place, we spent some time in the room DS would be in and he crawled off to play.
He's been there 6 months and loves it, and so do I. I don't really feel any guilt in leaving him etc and he enjoys it so much!
Hopefully someone will come along with a useful list of things, but I'd also say go with your gut feeling when you visit. Good luck!
I would also say it's more of a feeling, once you have seen that it's clean, well staffed and the children look happy then it's down to can you see yourself dropping off in the morning and being happy heading to work.
Some specific things could be, do they have an on site kitchen or does the food come in from an outside company and are you fussed either way.
Do they supply the nappies, creams or formula within the fees or would you need to send them.
What sort of outside space have they got and how is it used for each age group.
Do they take the children out, how often and where too.
Also check out the ofsted report, use it as a very loose guide to how they are doing, it might say if they tend to have a high staff turnover or if they have any areas to work on.
Towards the bottom on the Web page for each nursery it will show any complaints and outcomes.
Have fun looking around, I'm sure you will walk into one and just know it's right.
I'd go with gut feeling too. Do look at the Ofsted, be aware of when the last inspection was carried out though. My nearest nursery is supposedly outstanding but it was given that rating 5 years ago and I suspect that it may be rather different when they next visit. I'd be weary of a nursery that was too clean and tidy and also of one that was absolute chaos. Ask about adult:child ratios and also about staff qualifications. Some nurseries seem to think that they can put their weakest members of staff into the baby room as babies don't require educating. This is a)not true and b)worrying in terms of a baby's wellbeing, they can get ill very quickly. More important than all of that is simply observing how staff interact with the children. Are they warm and nurturing? You can't teach those qualities.
Oh it's always good to look at how staff support children's relationships with one another too. When I looked around one nursery with my DD she was grabbed and pulled by 2 different children. Totally to be expected, but staff did not step in to say "No, gently" or anything similar.
Thanks everyone - some good pointers that i wouldnt really have thought of.
When I went and looked around our nursery I loved it because it had a beautiful outside space and because everyone - children and staff - just looked so happy. What was also nice was that I saw some bad behaviour (I think a child snatched something from someone else) and the staff were really gentle in correcting them. There was also one child crying who instantly got lots of cuddles and distraction.
Frankly, if you like the staff, you'll probably be onto a winner.
I'd echo the gut feeling recommendation and also suggest you visit more than once because one of my top 3 initially was ruled out immediately on a second visit when I overheard one of the staff speaking horribly to one of the children.
Also think about if there is something that is particularly important to you.
With dd1 who was a terrible sleeper I only considered places with separate sleeping rooms for example.
I think once you go to a few you soon get an idea of what you like & dislike too
Gut feeling. Sounds so weird but you'll just know.
A lot operate an open door policy, so drop in and ask to be shown round, it's brilliant when you think 'yes!' And they haven't even rolled out the red carpet.
Ask the staff about their working hours and how many breaks they have- imagine working in a nursery with bad hours.
See how relaxed the staff and children are.
Look at the food served.
I think mostly it's gut feeling and personal preference. But don't expect bad things just cause it's not home care. In a good nursery baby room there won't be any child crying without being cuddled. They can be rocked to sleep if they need it or carried around all day if they are off or settling. The 1:3 ratio is minimum and my first nursery would have an extra pair of hands if there were new babies.
I liked my son in a small 2:6 baby room personally and I liked nursery provided meals. I liked a lot of outdoor play even pre-walking and I liked lots of messy play. But that's just me. You hunk about what you like.
An unexpected discovery for me was my sons love of music. Discovered mainly through nursery's specialist music classes.
I have 3 dc - dc1 went to an excellent private nursery attached to a primary school. There is such a small turnover of staff that most of the same staff are still there, 11 years on. The outdoor facilities were wonderful and adult:child ratio high. All of these made for a good nursery experience.
Dc2 and dc3 went childminders until they were 3 and that worked brilliantly. I much preferred the home setting for little ones.
Dc2 went to a good school nursery after the childminder and dc3 went to a fantastic nursery attached to a primary school. They were always over staffed, also had fantastic communication, carefully thought out meals, activities and outdoor area. The 3/4 year olds also experienced forest school once a week, which was amazing.
I ignored my gut feeling with DC1 and sent him to the same nursery as a friend used. He howled every time I dropped him off and they gave me a 'communication book' which have me the times of his meals and nappy changes but bugger all elder. I hauled him out 3 months later and placed him with a childminder who is out with him every day, in parks or at the seaside, and who does lots of messy play. I get an a5 side at least with descriptions of what he did and enjoyed, things he's said. Instantly happier mummy and baby. Trust your own feelings. I'm still sad to have 'lost' three months to the nursery.
Definitely gut feeling. Also think carefully about the rooms after the baby room, do they feel right etc. I was too focussed on the baby room and where I would be leaving my little baby and didn't think much past that. I ended up having to move him at 2.5, which was a bit of an upheaval but the right thing in the long run.
our older son's first nursery, there was one steady caring staff member there but the others seemed to change every week. It was ... okay ... but am much happier with the second. The staff are caring, they seem to stay a long time and they contact you if there is a problem or even if they think it's simply time to chat how your children are doing.
One time our younger son crawled right underneath the waterproof mattress on the bed while sleeping, which could have been catastrophic. They told me the minute I got there and frankly I wouldnt have trusted the other place not to hide it had happened at all. For me, that means I trust them more; that they owned up and were clearly very shaken. ( I saw the beds and have no possible idea how it could have happened, they're safe).
Good gut feeling, ask around the people you know who have children there, check the Ofstead and keep an ongoing eye on how your little one seems after a day there.
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