Setting up Nursery - would appreciate your input(19 Posts)
I am in the process of setting up a new wrap around daycare centre and would really appreciate your input into what things are at the top of your list when it comes to picking a nursery for your child. I will be open 7am - 7pm and take all ages between 3 months and 5, through to after school up to age 11.
I would really like input into the type of things if you had a 'wish list' that you would like to see. It can be related to lots of things, outdoor play options, facilities, opening hours, fees, types of staff, atmosphere. Really anything that you feel strongly about.
MANY thanks in advance.....
A fantastic outside space that is easily accessible and can be used in all weathers.
Calm colours and lots of natural wooden furniture.
A good mix of staff- not too young but not too old- you need the experince that comes with age but you need somebody with enough energy to jump around with the children.
Also, the option to have a less supervised club for older high school children- there really is nothing for year 7 upwards.
Staff who cuddle small children and who give the impression of being calm and not getting shouty, and treating their kids as small colleagues who are all working together for everyone to have fun.
Childsize and adult size toilets.
An inspiring garden play area.
Lots of decor clearly inspired by the children.
One thing I like about ds's nursery is it's quite small (32 kids max in 3 rooms), and the rooms all have large windows into the corridor, hall and into another/the office, so it's easy for visitors and staff to see what's going on.
Decent written communication before a child starts so parents know everything they need to bring, and every closure day and parents event for the next 6 months or more. And keep it up!
This may be a little controversial, but I personally like to see more experienced, older, nursery staff. I do realise that some of the seventeen and eighteen year olds are absolutely fine, but I just found it an extra thing to worry about when I was leaving my baby!
I'd like to see a maximum number of hours per child per week to stop parents leaving their children with you for 60 hours per week. No matter how good a nursery is they are still an institution. It's good to be open long hours to accommodate different working patterns but no child should be in nursery 12 hours every day. This is not meant to disparage your nursery in any way at all so please don't take it as anything other than a general statement applicable to all nurseries.
Separate rooms for babies and toddlers with different atmospheres - a more calm( and of course higher ratios (and v clean)) for babies. More going on with the older ones ( eg outdoor play, outdoor teas, soft play, musical play , things like ballet and swimming are excellent extras if possible). If u have a real programme for before and after school rather than just tagging alone with the preschool ( eg craft / cookery / homework help that may be inappropriate for under 4's). Pick up and drop off from local schools. Agree that a mixture if older and younger staff is preferable. Maintaining a low staff turnover will keep things on an even keel once you've got people to appreciate what you offer - remember that parents will soon find out about poor treatment of staff. Most of all maintain open- ness in the relationships and communicate openly. The levels of communication change as children get older and can express their own opinions but for preschoolers I would prefer a short chat with key worker plus a written handiver detailing food taken / sleeps and a few other notes on the day.
Working in childcare i think you should have
- seperate rooms that divide children ablity rather than age, but chances for all ages to mix.
- older rooms being allowed to free flow from rooms, to garden.
- sand/water/texture play to be available
- a calm sleep room
- staff that are attentive to the children's needs, and treat all children with a calm and encouraging attitude
- Good pay for staff
- Promote good parent/staff relationships
- A fun bright enviroment
From a personal point, a sensory room. It's great for SN children but children in general.
Good support for SN children, including physical disabilities.
Older staff if possible, fair pricing and good written communications.
A good community nursery, so one I work with has health visitor come in and parents can request health check and weight checks.
We also have a walking bus to ensure the babies get out for a walk in the bus (like a giant buggy bus) every day and don't just stare at same place all day.
Good fresh tasty food, grown or sourced locally, ideally grown on the premises. Lots of story telling and imaginative play, not much screen time.
Child-centred reflective practice, like Steiner or Scandinavian education systems.
Lots of books for the children, lots of open-ended resources.
The nursery DS2 went to before we moved used real nappies and had a really excellent laundry service. We supplied them with an extra change of clothes at the start (clearly labelled) and they would change him when necessary and then wash the dirty clothes for us so there was no need to keep bringing in a bag with a change of clothes just in case.
They used their own real nappies during the day and in the late afternoon they changed the kids into a disposable or their own real nappies (which could also be included in the laundry service so we only had to supply one extra nappy). It was great and DS2 absolutely never had any nappy rash. His current nursery supply disposables and he had months and months of really dreadful nappy rash before we managed to work out that he's allergic to the nursery nappies. The nursery have actually been great and are now supplying him with asda's own brand, which don't irritate his skin.
I agree that a mix of experienced and newer staff is best for everyone. As is an active staff development programme. It's very helpful to have a good manager who maintains a strong presence throughout the nursery and who parents feel they can discuss anything with. Working hard to maintain low staff turnover is aldo really important (so pay them decent wages with good conditions and give them good opportunities for advancement, combined with very good additional training).
Lots of good, well designed outside space is also very important, particularly where it includes shady/sheltered areas so the kids can get out in all weathers. Our current nursery has little waterproof suits the kids put on with their wellies so they can get out and play in the rain. DS2 loves this.
Hire a good cook and provide good quality, home cooked food every day.
In general, the thing that I always go by when choosing nurseries is the atmosphere and how well the staff interact with the kids/each other.
I want a Ferrari for under £2000. I want a round the world cruise for £500. I want a string of blondes that cost less than £50 a week to run. I want great childcare at a tiny price.
Not going to happen. Quality costs money. Good staff want paying well which costs money. They also want a good environment and resources which cost money. Good food costs money. Sensory rooms cost money. Money comes from fees.
I'm not saying you should charge high fees and provide a high service. A budget nursery offering a basic service could be very useful to a community. Just be realistic. You get what you pay for.
Guys! Thank you so much for your fantastic feedback! Mumsnet is such a super resource and very active! You gave all given me great feedback and it's most appreciated. Watch this space!
Clear billing .... It drives me mad that we can't understand the indecipherable bills that nursery sends every month with a threat of pulling his place if they aren't paid on time.
I pay by direct debit so they are always paid on time but they are always mucking about with them so I have often overpaid (funny it never goes the other way ) and it's taken months to sort out a refund
My DH & I are both very well educated, intelligent people, I deal with projects worth millions yet I still find it difficult to work out what they've billed me for each month due to an ever changing set if 'codes'.... So if we can't 'get it' I don't see how anybody else can either.
Sorry for the rant but it really annoys me on what is otherwise a really good nursery
The most important thing to me would be to work with the parents and have good lines of communication. Our last nursery looked so good on paper and had an excellent OFSTED report but the owners were rude and never acted on any feedback, never responded to emails or phone calls and were generally very unpleasant. Am sure you will be none of these things but I think it's worth paying as much attention to this side of the nursery as it is any other. Good luck with it all!
Marking my place as I'll have plenty to add when
I'm not so wound up about DDs pre school I remember all that I loved about DSs pre school.
If you set it up badly you will regret it in the long run. It needs to be done right from the start.
eg A nursery I know of has a nappy changing area a 30 second walk away from their smaller toddler's room. 20 children getting change 4 times a day means a member of staff spends 1 hour 20 minutes just walking to and from the bathroom area with the children.
Another nursery had a preschool split between 3 rooms. I was given 2 members of staff and told I could have a member of staff in each room. When I told the boss it wasn't enough as Nappies needed changing and children needed help in the bathroom etc, the boss covered her ears and went "LA LA LA!". (Metaphorically).
Yet another nursery I used to work in had a new unit built. It was in the country. The views were lovely. For the staff anyway, as the windows were all above the children's heads.
I really do think every stage in setting up a childcare setting needed input from experienced staff who work in settings. From the drawing board (more storage) to picking the paint colours (Some colours relax children, others make them hyper) to picking the equipment (To get stuff children like and is educational rather than what grown-ups think children like (Wooden dolls furniture is crap)).
you live near me I'd love to pop over and help. I'm in West Berkshire.
value and appreciate staff, they will reward you with hardwork and loyalty amd recommend friends to work too... I worked somewhere the manager spoke to staff like dirt and the turnover of staff was so high that most were expected to leave within a month of starting, and the manager despite having been told her people skills are abismal she still continues on the same way.... I'm an excellent childcarer and love what I do, but i couldn't stand it and left after 3 months...
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