Thomas has been in nursery for a whole 2 weeks now. You can read why we chose a nursery here. This post is more of a guidance for someone choosing a nursery and also a bit of reflection for myself!
So here’s how I chose:
- I did an internet search of all nurseries in the area (I used google, daynurseries.co.uk, and netmums etc).
- I asked for brochures for all I liked
- I downloaded OFSTED reports for all I liked
- I looked to see on line testimonials for all I liked (I would have asked friends had I any friends with children!)
- Then I arranged to visit my favourites
What I looked for in a nursery:
- Do I like the school ethos? I wanted somewhere with am emphasis on communication skills as well as environmental awareness. For example the nursery/pre-school we chose has a nature trail, pond, vegetable garden and their own forest centre children go on day trips to. Interestingly the fairly traditional nursery we chose had more of an emphasis on outdoor play and nature than the forest school we looked at!
- As well as creating a happy environment, academic excellence, respect for nature and social skills the nursery/ pre-school we chose also embraces discipline and courtesy…is that something you would want? I didn’t think it was at the beginning of my search. However, soon realised it sounds much harsher than it really is at this age! The children there seemed so polite and articulate compared to some other places we visited!
- Do the staff talk to children encouraging them to talk back?
- Presentation of the school grounds (is it clean and safe?)
- How often are toys sterilized?
- Do the children seem happy, confident, articulate?
- What was the interaction like between children and the staff? My decision was final as soon as I saw that staff were so approachable, and the Matron knew every child’s name by heart and we went around the whole nursery AND pre-school! All the children said hello and approached her with easy starting conversations as we walked past.
- Are the staff well qualified? All staff at the nursery we chose are NVQ level 3 and above. There was one nursery we visited with very young staff and high staff turnover- I wouldn’t have left Thomas there for a million years!
- Is the head properly qualified?
- Are staff trained in first aid?
- Did the staff welcome Thomas when we looked around?
- Did Thomas like it when we went to visit? could I imagine him there?
- Could we see around the whole school/centre?
- Could I see examples of work/paintings on display and example work if I asked? (I was amazed at the quality of displays at the nursery we chose- it blew all the other nurseries out of the water!)
- Did the head/matron have the time to show us around, or were we left to other staff?
- Were the rooms bright?
- Were the toys clean and attractive? Is there a variety of toys?
- What is the outside space like?
- What is the staff/child ratio?
- Will the nursery provide food? nappies? (have they won any food awards? are the meals healthy?)
- Will snack be provided?
- How often will they change nappies?
- Are there settling in sessions? (there should be at least 2)
- What activities do they do? cooking? painting? TV? Music? dance? outside play?
- How do children take naps? what bedding is used?
- How do staff deal with tantrums/ bad behaviour?
- How is activity and development recorded? will you get photos? online access? development booklets? written reports? how often will you get these?
- Are you made welcome to enquire at any time about the wellbeing of your child? I called just 2 hours after I dropped Thomas off on the 1st day and the Matron took the time to go into his room and tell me what he had eaten and that he was charming all the staff with his peek-a-boo skills!
- Does your child have a key member of staff allocated for him/her?
- Will you be provided with detailed information about how his/her day went? did they eat all their meals? did they have any dirty nappies? what they enjoyed doing the most that day?
Yes! It’s a long list! At the end of the day, you will just have a feeling for what feels right for you! As soon as I walked into the nursery grounds I felt an overwhelming sense of warmth and excitement. Excitement for all the fun that Thomas could have there. The setting was idyllic and made me want to be back starting school again! I mean…. who wouldn’t love a nature trail, wigwam, poly tunnel and veg garden?!?! AND as a parent I get to buy veg the children pick at low cost!
Picture: The nature trail at the nursery
The nursery is set in the grounds of an old rectory at the Open University campus in Milton Keynes. So the aim is for me to do some work at the library there some days whilst Thomas is in nursery. The OU campus is lovely:
Did I mention there is a great cafe on the OU campus? Baby is happy AND mummy is happy
And look at these shortbread biscuits Thomas made at nursery today….yes they are in my tummy now….
How did you pick a nursery?
Did your little one settle in well?
Where do you put all the art work that comes home?