Deciding on a nursery for your child can be quite tricky. You need to make sure you leave them in good hands! It’s hard to separate from them during those early years so you need reassurance that you are taking them to a place that is right for them.
Not only for their safety, but you also want the staff to help your children develop their abilities, skills and knowledge.
You might be wondering; how can I make sure of that in the few minutes I get to walk around a nursery and meet the staff?
Well, here is a list of things to check before making such a tough decision.
- Experience/qualifications of the staff
For a lot of parents, their choice will depend heavily on the people that will be looking after their child. There seems to be a correlation in between qualified nursery teachers and child outcome so don’t be afraid to enquire about them.
Make sure that there are staff members with a full and relevant Level 3 qualification, and that at least half of the other staff hold a full and relevant level 2. Also, all newly qualified nursery staff will be legally required to take paediatric first aid training.
And while experience and qualifications are really important, so too is people’s work ethic and passion.
It’s important that the nursery encourages the staff to hold a regular CPD (Continuing Professional Development) such as workshops or online training. It enables the teachers to grow their competence in caring for young children and helps to demonstrate their commitment to the role.
The nursery must have a recruitment procedure that will help to identify and eliminate people who may be a welfare threat. Therefore, a nursery must check:
- Criminal records (DBS). They should also ensure that the person has not been prohibited from teaching
- Barred lists
- Professional qualifications
- Right to work in the UK
Choose a nursery that not only knows how to deal with accidents but also knows how to prevent them.
- Opening hours
You need to make sure the nursery is suitable for your needs. If the nursery is still closed when you have to leave for work, you might need to keep looking!
This will add unnecessary stress to you and to your little ones. Don’t make it a military operation to fit in around you getting to and from work.
For working parents, knowing the flexible hours of your nursery is vital. Don’t forget to ask for the costs of these extra hours, as they can really increase your bill at the end of the month.
- What do the fees include?
Make sure you know what the fees of the new nursery include. You don’t want last-minute surprises!
One nursery might seem cheaper than the other but when you check on the extras such as food, nappies, wipes, creams, baby food… You might end up with a completely different price. Make sure to have the total amount before making any decisions.
Extra-curricular activities are a great way of developing physically and mentally, as they improve their social skills and abilities!
If your child is going to eat there, you need to know what they will feed them. A good and healthy diet plan is key for development, so make sure they are providing them with the correct meals. You need to establish if they cater to any dietary/ requirements or religious/cultural needs that your child may have.
It’s good to receive some kind of feedback on what your child is getting up to each day! This will also give you the confidence that your little one is being well cared for and happy.
Make sure your nursery values and engages parents into their education. Listening to parents’ views is a great way of finding areas of improvement. Some of them offer online learning journeys where you can check your children’s progress and daily updates.
- Health and safety policy
Make sure that they are complying the requirements in the Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFCS). This includes:
- The premises should be clean, and the nursery should be aware of the health and safety legislation.
- A health and safety policy should be in place which includes procedures to identify and deal with hazards, accidents and faulty equipment (Fire safety, outdoors, repairs and maintenance, reporting injuries, diseases…)
Basically, you will want to know what they will do if your child gets poorly or has an accident, and how are they preventing that from happening. They should also be aware of whether any of the children in their care has a condition or disease that might need attention (medication, allergies…)
- Education approaches of the nursery
Do some research into educational approaches and ask the nursery manager which one/ones they follow.
All nurseries must adhere to the Early Years Statutory Framework (EYSF) which is provided by the department of education.
How do they manage children’s behaviour?
Generally, children of nursery age haven’t yet learnt about discipline. This is why having a behaviour policy is so important. How do they deal with that? Make sure they will be using positive methods like distraction instead of threats or corporal punishment.
- Ratios of staff to children
There are strict guidelines on the ratio of staff to children. Make sure the nursery is following the rules:
- For under 2 years – one carer to three children
- 2-3 years – one carer to four children
- 3-5 years – one carer to eight children
- Check the nursery’s Ofsted ranking
The Office for Standards in Education, Children’s Services and Skills (Ofsted) is a department in the UK government reporting to Parliament. This department is responsible for inspecting a range of educational institutions.
Their reports can help you find a lot of nurseries in your area, their ratings and information about age groups, etc.
By following these steps, you will be able to narrow down a list of possible candidates with accurate and reliable information!