Placing your child in a day nursery for the first time can be a very stressful experience. How will your child react to being apart from you for a lengthy period, how will you react to it as well! So making the right decision when choosing is imperative for your piece of mind and will help you and your child during the transition.
So what signs should you look for?
In the first instance visiting a few different ones in your local area will give you and your child a guide to what best suits you. But make sure that they are registered and inspected on a regular basis. You can download reports on any registered nursery by visiting the Office for Standards in Education (Ofsted). Any Ofsted registered nursery should display their certificate in a prominent position, if it is not immediately apparent ask the manager if you can see it.
Does it have a good reputation? Try to chat to other parents who either have children there or know somebody that does, a word of mouth recommendation is a strong indication that the nursery in question is offering a good service.
What are their policies? The nursery should have clearly defined polices from opening times to procedures in the event of an emergency this will assure you that they take the responsibility of caring for your child as a matter of course.
In my opinion a good day nursery should adhere to a strict illness policy, discuss which illnesses will affect attendance and how long it will be before your child is allowed back, so that if you work during the day you can plan accordingly.
Should the staff be trained? This is simple, yes! All staff must be trained in at least the EYFS which should ensure that they create a stimulating, fun and safe environment.
What is the staff to children ratio? Once again there are regulations that must be adhered to, namely; 1 adult each to 3 children aged 2 and under, 4 children between 2 & 3 and 8 children between 3 & 5.
What qualities should the staff offer? I could write a lengthy post on this, but the key elements are that they show a detailed interest in your child’s health to ascertain if their nursery is right for your child and you. They should take time to get to know your child early on and be willing to talk to you at the end of the day about what they have been doing and how your child has (hopefully!) enjoyed it and participated. Another key aspect is the happiness of the staff, do they receive a suitable employment package? Those nurseries that offer good benefits will have a lower staff turnover thus ensuring stable, consistent care for your child.
You may well have other points that need explaining, don’t hesitate to ask if you feel it is important and one last thing the day nursery should be clean! Check all areas especially the kitchen for their cleanliness as well as heating and ventilation.
If the prospective childcare provider ticks all the above boxes then your little one will enjoy his pre-school experience, oh….and so will you!