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How to choose a nursery...

3 replies

srv · 11/03/2008 15:21

I'm sure this has been asked before but any advice would be very welcome. Our son will be going to a nursery for 2 days a week (possibly split into 4 mornings or afternoons) from September when he will be 9 months old.

What things should we look for in a nursery and what questions should we ask when we go to visit?

Many thanks


OP posts:
Monkeybird · 11/03/2008 15:32
  1. Look at inspection reports online (sure someone will link...)

  1. See what the staff's attitude is when you turn up unannounced (try and just 'be passing' before your main visit). Ask to visit at different times or spend some time there to see how things are at different times of day (eg does it all fall apart at picking up time?). Ask to see a playplan or activity schedule for your child's room and ask if they have them for all age groups (they should)

  1. When you have your booked visit, see who the staff focus on. If they talk only to you, you gotta ask, who's focusing on the children? Are they still interacting with their kids, and indeed your baby? Are they busy doing paperwork and ignoring the kids?

  1. Look at the toys and displays. Does it seem a lively, colourful, interactive room - for all age groups? Ask what their toy policy is: do they refresh/buy toys every year, do they rotate toys, how do they manage active/physical/outdoor play etc..

  1. Ask about catering for different food needs: are they able to cope with what YOU want (eg BLW, EBM, home-made brought in food, what is the standard menu like)

  1. What are the sleeping/ nap arrangements? Do babies have their own cots? Can they leave toys/comforters there?

Is there a quiet, dark place for a nap? How long do they spend helping babies off to sleep?

  1. What do they do when a baby is really upset - this is quite a good question IME. Gives you a good sense of whether they are child-focused or not.

  1. Try and talk to some of the actual staff rather than just the manager who'll be well schooled in answering such questions.

  1. Do you feel comfortable there? If not, it's probably not the right place. Having said this, nowhere is ever as good as you'd hope but you do need to feel a bit comforted by the environment.

10. how much opportunity is there for parents to comment or feedback on nursery issues?

11. Are there other extra activities included or do you pay extra (eg music, dance etc)

12. How qualified are the staff? What is the staff turnover like (ie have they been there a long time because they are happy and the nursery is a good employer?) what sort of breaks/rewards do staff get (you don't want a tired, crabby nursery nurse looking after your child). Do they have ongoing staff training?

A good nursery will have some sort of document already answering many of these points; a bad one will feel very threatened about being asked some of them!
S1ur · 11/03/2008 15:34

thread asking this yesterday - more ideas

Recommendations from friends is how I chose.

I think you should look for how friendly and confident they seem with the children in their care.

What is their ethos? So do they consider themselves more prep for school, home from home, combo of two.

Look at their displays, are the rooms bright and inviting? Does the work of the kids show that they do varied actvites?

Do they have weekly plans? topics? Do they try to link with local area/history/environment?

Do they have an outside space? How is it used? how often and is it mixed aged shared?

What are their strategies on misbehaviour? Do they use sanctions? What are they?

How do they monitor their children's well-being and progress? Do they have times when they observe children playing and keep notes? Will they be sharing these observations with you. (my dds nursery had 'learning stories -just little observations like, dd knew when she'd pooed her nappy today, she pointed at her bottom and said 'poo' - they kept these together in a big folder which was sent home periodically)

Do they make the children's meals on site? Ask to see a sample week's menu.

And of course,
Do the kids look like they are having fun????

These are just lots and lots of ideas, you don't need to be looking for all of them, but maybe think about which are important to you, you can ask for a copy of their policies and that'd cover quite a lot. Hopefully you ds will love it

S1ur · 11/03/2008 15:36

Also ask whether they are training providers, often a good indicator of high quality care and maintaining good professional development.

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