15 Mar 12 things to look for when picking a new nursery
If you’re currently pregnant (congratulations!) or on maternity leave, you may have started to think about what will happen when you return to work, even if that’s working from home for the foreseeable future.
You may have a relative or friend who could help with childcare, or be thinking about a childminder, but if they become ill or go on holiday, you’ll be left (literally) holding the baby! If you work from home or have a flexible employer this may be manageable, but if you have a high-pressure job, work in education, healthcare, shift work or similar, a lack of reliable childcare could add another layer of stress.
Many nurseries have waiting lists of up to a year so the sooner you make decisions and put your name down at your preferred nursery, the quicker you can cross that off the list of things to get sorted.
Asking friends and family, as personal recommendations are a great place to start. Following recommendations, you can begin to draw up a shortlist and check Ofsted reports for your chosen nurseries at www.ofsted.gov.uk. As well as Ofsted, www.daynurseries.co.uk is a great place to learn about each individual setting and read reviews from other parents. Here’s ours as an example;
Once you have compiled your shortlist, you can start making calls and booking in a visit or a virtual tour. Make sure to notice how they handle your telephone enquiry, do you feel your call is important to them?
There will be lots of information available on nursery websites, together with their key policies. You may be sent an information pack in advance of your visit – particularly if visits are virtual – so you may be able to answer quite a few of your questions in advance.
What are your first impressions when you arrive? Are you made to feel welcome, are you supervised at all times, does everything look well maintained, do the children look happy and engaged?
Take a prepared list of questions so you can cover the same points with each nursery. Here are a few to get you started:
- When do they expect to have availability, for how many hours or days and does that fit with your return to work? Is a retainer required to hold the space?
- Will your child have a keyworker and, if so, how many children are they responsible for? Is there a daily handover of information at pick up time?
- Are the staff friendly? What is the ratio of staff to children?
- How many children are in each age group? Do they mix?
- Is there a quiet area for sleeping?
- Do they provide nappies, formula and meals or will you need to supply those?
- Can they cater for special dietary requirements and allergies? Are meals freshly prepared?
- What activities are available? Is there a good range of toys to encourage physical, fine motor and creative development?
- Is there a garden or access to a local park or green space? How do they get there and how are the children kept safe?
- What are the fees and are there extra costs to be factored in for trips, external activities or even parking costs when you drop off and pick up?
- What security, health and safety measures are in place? What steps do they take if accidents or illness occur?
- What extra steps are they taking concerning Covid-19?
Here at Little Cubs Academy, we go the extra step to assure you that you and your little one will feel right at home. Our nursery walk arounds are tailored to your family and our Head Teachers will be alongside you to answer all of your questions.
If you’re making decisions about which nursery is the right environment for your little one, do get in touch with us and book a viewing. Our Little Cubs Academy settings in Greenwich and Forest Hill are fun place to learn, play and grow!