It’s only natural to feel a little concerned when thinking about leaving your child with a new childcare provider for the first time. So what can you do to make it easier?
Start doing your homework well in advance
A little research beforehand can help ease the worries involved in the process of choosing a new childcare provider. Look for reviews and recommendations, as well as Ofsted reports. If you can get a chance to talk with other parents of children at the nursery, all the better!
When it comes to visiting the nursery for the first time, what do you look for?
Here, we’ve put together a guide of 10 things to look for when visiting a nursery.
#1 Do you receive a warm welcome?
The welcome you receive as a visitor will give you an insight into the general attitude and disposition of the nursery staff. Are they friendly and welcoming? Do they deal with you and other families and children in a professional and caring manner?
#2 Is the nursery secure?
Does the nursery have an entry system? Are you expected to sign in when visiting the nursery? What areas do the children have access to? Are they supervised closely enough in the different areas? Visiting a nursery for the first time is an ideal moment to answer these questions and ease any concerns you may have.
#3 Do the children follow a structured routine?
Ask whether there are set times for activities, mealtimes, outdoor play. Do the children look calm, happy and engaged? Do the nursery staff appear to be in control of activities and engaging with the children?
#4 What is the ratio of staff to children?
Look for a ratio of four children to one staff member for two year olds and a ratio of eight children to one staff member for three and four year olds.
#5 How busy is the nursery?
A good nursery should be a hive of activity and provide a happy and stimulating environment for the children in its care.
Visiting a nursery around a mealtime could be a good way of finding out about mealtime routines and the food on offer. Does the food look wholesome and healthy? Are the children closely supervised whilst they are eating? Do the children look to be eating happily? Are menus available for you to view?
#7 Are the staff happy and engaged with the children in their care?
Notice the atmosphere and listen to the staff around. Do the staff seem happy and caring, and are they paying attention to the needs of the children and showing an interest?
#8 Activities, toys & equipment
Pay special attention to the activities that are on offer in the nursery. Are they fun and exciting? Is there enough variety to keep children engaged and stimulated? Your child will come into contact with a lot of equipment and resources and it’s important that the toys and play apparatus are safe and well maintained.
#9 What qualifications/experience and checks do the staff have?
From Nursery Assistants to Managers, all staff should have suitable qualifications. Have all the staff been DBS checked? Don’t be afraid to ask questions when having conversations with the Manager or any of the staff.
#10 Will your child’s medical conditions be cared for?
If your child has, or develops, any medical conditions during their time at nursery, will their needs be cared for? What facilities are in place to be able to do this? How are medicines administered and are they recorded? Do staff have any experience of specific medical conditions and are all the staff first aid trained?
By following these Top 10 Tips when you visit prospective childcare providers, you’ll soon be able to make an informed decision as to which is the right nursery to choose for your child.
Remember, a good nursery should welcome the chance to show off their facilities and expertise in providing the highest quality of care for your child. They will also understand your concerns and should put you at ease.