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Pre-school visit today, what to look for?

(9 Posts)
Twiga Thu 04-Sep-08 08:59:25

Am taking dd (3 in just over a week) to have a look at a pre-school near us today at 1pm. Is there anything in paticular I should be looking out for - she's our pfb so not done any of this before?! Also if we decided to go ahead and reg her there are they likely to want money today and should I take her birth cert with us - they didn't say on the phone yesterday? Feeling a bit anxious about it all as want things to be right for her.

Lemontart Thu 04-Sep-08 09:13:36

gut reaction counts for a lot tbh
Take your time to look around and don’t or agree to anything until you are happy to do so. Organise a return visit if unsure to give yourself time. To expect you to look around and sign up within ten minutes of walking through the door is a bit presumptious on their behalf (although they might want her settled early as possible into the term to be fair)

They should have a parents handbook/policy book for you to read through which should give you lots of info regarding their stance on many issues from what food they serve up, stance on nappy changing, hygiene, staff to child ratios etc. After working our way through a few playgroups and preschools, they do vary a lot. Some will have your children involved in a wide range of activities, constantly changing and responding to their needs, others have a set and inflexible rota of equipment and toys. Some places allow a lot of free play and others can be quite structured and adult led activities (play assistant with small group of children helping them to make an identical craft each to take home versus the big craft table covered in stuff and allowing the children to make whatever they want with the watchful eye of an adult). It depends on your child what types of things you prefer - my eldest needed structure and a lot of adult intervention to keep her included and feeling supported and safe. My youngest failed at that group as she was restricted and felt "strangled" by it - ended up with a much freer and artistic group where she flourished.
Some places insist on only organic healthy snacks that the children help prepare along with the adults. Others hand round plastic plates with Tesco value chocolate swiss roll.
Putting all that aside, it is gut reaction. Although they will be "on show" and performing a little if you are there (as we all do to be fair), watch the way the children act and interact with the other children and grown ups - are they relaxed and happy with clear behaviour boundaries? how and when do the adults intervene? what happens if one of them needs the loo - is there an adult to ensure hand washing and keeping an eye out for them? What about outside time? are the facilities ok, do they still go out if it rains a little, do they take them on walks?
I could go on and on! hth

mistlethrush Thu 04-Sep-08 09:15:23

I've not been asked for birth cirtificate for any of the schools I've visited.

What I looked for:
Children engaged and happy
Relative calm (not complete mayhem unless playtime)
Type of work up on walls around school (art etc)
Activities such as sport and music - how much, range, etc.
Facilities/space/equipment/books (/library space) - is it appropriate for age and size of classes etc.
Teachers - are they engaging the children and involved
What is children's response to the person showing you round - some of the schools the children flocked around the person (politely) in others they ignored them and didn't seem to know them - this partly depended on who showed us around.
Outside space - is it good for them to play in - and are there special areas for the nursery to use that are particularly appropriate etc.

I hope that helps a bit?

Twiga Thu 04-Sep-08 09:22:10

Thanks Lemontart that's helpful. Finding it all a bit stressful as just getting my head round the englsh system having recently moved from scotland. Very diff choices to make - where we were it was pretty much one of three school attatched nurseries and here there is a bewildering array of pre-school playgroups, nurseries, independant places - all a bit of a headache.

Twiga Thu 04-Sep-08 09:25:58

Thanks mistlethrush - in Scotland I had to take birth certs when putting dd down for her nursery places, so wasn't sure if I neded to prove age here in the same way. Dd has unfortunately missed funding for this term by 14 days, again this is diff as where we were there would have been funding available from Oct.

Twiga Thu 04-Sep-08 15:23:55

Well, we're back from our visit and I'm not sure if I expected too much but I've come away really disappointed. No-body really showed us round as such, was handed copy of prospectus to look through. Dd played and staff chatted a bit but it was quiet stilted and awkward. Equipment seemed fairly old and in need of repair in places and the floor really needed a good sweep -degree of mess understandable as had already been morn sess and lunch - but just felt it could have been better. That said the staff were friendly enough when they did chat and made sure dd was ok. I guess I expected that they might have introduced dd to a couple of kids and generally sold the place with some enthusiasim.

Have phoned to look at another pre-school playgroup tom morn and really hoping will be better.

soon2be3 Fri 05-Sep-08 21:03:23

You will need to show your child's birth certificate and council tax form in order to claim NEG funding.

soon2be3 Fri 05-Sep-08 21:04:17

Your council tax form - not the child's!

ja9 Sun 07-Sep-08 22:31:14

hi twiga. ds has just started at pre-school. the school it is a part of has just had an EXCELLENT HMI inspection. However the nursery just seems very normal and the building kind of run down... i was a bit, not disappointed, but surprised. Just wanted to share this as it might take your focus off 'first-impressions' a bit more.

We're in abdn this weekend - sorry you didn't manage up, was looking forward to see you. Thinking of you lots.


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