Choosing a day nursery is one of the most important decisions a parent will ever have to make. The thought of handing over your precious little one to anyone, let alone strangers, is tough and therefore making sure they are being looked after by the best people in the safest environment is priority number one.
However, while looking around child care options the anxiety of leaving your child can often cause brain fog, leaving questions unasked.
To make the process of choosing somewhere a little easier, here’s a list of important points to consider when you’re looking into child care:
Seal of Approval
Always ensure the child care provider (whether that is a nursery or childminder) you choose is registered with Ofsted. The registration certificate should be displayed on site, together with a current certificate of insurance.
Don’t be afraid to ask to see a copy of the recent Ofsted inspection report. This will highlight the quality of nursery education, care and the appropriateness of equipment and facilities. You can also find all current Ofsted reports for all registered child care providers in the UK on the Ofsted website – https://www.gov.uk/government/organisations/ofsted
When visiting the site itself, have the following questions in mind to ask yourself and the team as you tour the location:
Is the environment bright, warm, clean and welcoming?
Your child may be spending more time in this environment than anywhere else, so they need to be relaxed and comforted by surroundings that are appropriate for their age.
Is the equipment good quality, safe and appropriate?
As your little one grows, they will require different resources and learning opportunities to encourage their interests and understanding, these should be accessible and readily available to the children within the room at all times.
Is there a safe and clean outside play area?
Children should be able to access an outside environment to allow them to run, explore and play every day in all weathers!
For example, the majority of Kiddi Caru nurseries have growing gardens, bug hotels, mud kitchens and a range of other activities that are great for sensory development, promoting learning and physical activity as well as being exciting for little ones, meaning they’ll want to go outside in the fresh air and learn rather than stay indoors.
What sort of meals are provided, at what time and is the food fresh?
Great care should be taken to provide nutritious and wholesome food, ideally prepared by fully qualified professionals. Planned daily menus should include fresh and varied options that are suitable for every age group.
As well as providing tasty dishes, meal-time should be used as a perfect relationship-building opportunity for baby and carer in the younger ages. Whereas, between the ages of two to five-year olds, meal times are an important opportunity for social interaction and a tool for building confidence and independence, as well as learning about taking turns, table etiquette and enjoying the social occasion!
Can the nursery cater for special diets?
There are many systems that a nursery or child minder may have in place, such as a traffic light system to highlight allergies and preferences. Some locations also follow a ‘nut free’ policy to ensure that no allergies are triggered at such a vulnerable early age where not all allergies are known.
Whilst having this discussion, make sure to enquire to their health and safety policy in the case that an allergy is discovered.
Are the menus changed on a regular basis?
‘Variety is the spice of life’ and you want to know that your little one is enjoying all the delicious flavours and textures available. Introducing different dishes on a regular basis at an early age can discourage ‘fussy eaters’ as your child will not fall into the pattern of eating the same meal over and over.
If the menus are changed regularly, are the displayed in an accessible area for you to see the different foods your child is enjoying?
Do the children in the nursery look happy and well occupied?
These are the potential new peers of your little one, so to see they are engaged in activities and are learning through play during your visit is a great insight to how your child will be if they were to join them.
Are the staff well presented, calm, confident and involved in the children’s’ play?
Make sure to speak with the team in the rooms, especially those in your child’s age room, as well as the manager during your visit. Take note of their ability to explain the activities the children are getting up to and the information they provide parents with at the end of each day. However, also take a step back to survey the staff’s interaction with the children in their care.
Ask about the staff to children ratios. They should be:
- 1:3 0-2 years
- 1:4 2-3 years
- 1:8 3-5 years
Make sure that at least half of the complete staff hold relevant childcare qualifications such as Level 2 or equivalent. At least one member of staff should have a First Aid Certificate and all supervisors are required to have a Level 3 or equivalent.
Have the manager explain their parent partnerships and how you will be kept up to date with the recording of your child’s activities, achievements and progress. This may include a key person or main contact.
Before leaving the site, ensure you fully understand the cost and what it does and does not include, such as meals, activities and products like nappies, lotions and sun cream. You should also discuss potty training, emergency procedures, discipline and other policies they may follow.
Lastly, how did you feel?
Did you and your child enjoy your visit? By ensuring all the key information and policies are followed by the nursery or childminder, it should come down to your personal connection and overall feeling towards the site and team during your visit.
Between the ages of newborn to five years old are extremely important in a child’s life. What they experience and learn in their formative years can shape the child, teenager and even adult they become, so ensuring you choose the best child care environment is vital to guarantee the best start possible.