When it comes to choosing childcare, the options can be overwhelming. These days, in one in three families both parents work full time. With many families spread across the country, meaning grandparents aren’t easily on call, professional childcare is often the only way to go. There are so many options including nurseries, childminders and pre-school – how do you begin to make such a difficult and important decision?
Why choose a nursery?
- Nurseries are a great long-term option for childcare as they cater for young babies right through to pre-school age.
- Class sizes differ, but generally offer children a great environment to socialise and interact with a number of children their own age. Nothing aids development like playing with peers.
- You may feel more comfortable leaving your little one in a secure nursery environment where they will rarely leave the premises, and permission will be sought if they do. This often puts parents’ minds at ease, knowing exactly where their child is at all times.
- Many nurseries offer classes on site, including dance, singing and sensory play – as well as the day-to-day activities the nursery itself provides.
- Getting your child used to an educational environment from a young age is excellent preparation for when they start school – which they will find less of a shock to the system.
How do you choose?
Put together a shortlist of nurseries in your area and arrange a visit to get a feel for the staff and see their facilities. You should be looking for a warm, friendly, inviting and clean environment with lots of happy and active children having fun. The staff should be welcoming and informative, it’s important that they enjoy their job and genuinely care for the wellbeing of your child – that should be evident when you see them in action.
Come up with a list of questions before you visit – here are some ideas on what to ask:
- Food – do they provide healthy choices and can they accommodate any special requirements you might have, such as allergies?
- Routine – do they have a strict naptime routine or will they follow your baby’s/child’s lead?
- What’s included in the cost – meals, nappies, milk etc.?
- Examples of activities and games they will be playing.
- Staff ratios – how many staff do they have onsite and in your classroom?
- Feedback – do they provide feedback on your child’s progress and activities – if so, in what format and how regularly?
- Ask about their latest Ofsted report.
Trust your instincts when choosing childcare. If you don’t get a good feel for a place then it’s probably not right for you.
Once you’re happy with a nursery, it’s a good idea to take your little one along for a visit and see how they interact with the staff and other children. Don’t be put off if they are upset or scared, nursery can be overwhelming and it can take several months for young children to settle in a new environment. It can be daunting for both parents and child at first, but the benefits of nursery are well worth it!
If you’re interested in talking to us at Toad Hall please get in touch with us and we’ll be happy to show you round our nurseries. In the meantime, you can find out more about our childcare approach here.