Whether you’re returning to work after maternity leave, moving to a different area, or just feel that your child would benefit from a nursery environment, choosing a setting to accommodate your child is a daunting task. To help you make the right choice, here are 10 things every parent should ask when visiting a nursery for the first time.
1. Can I meet the manager?
The nursery manager is responsible for the qualityof care in the nursery by ensuring that staff are properly trained and overseeing the kind of activities on offer. You will get a feel for the nursery ethos when you meet the manager.
2. How do you help new babies settle in?
Check if the nursery offers “trial” sessions before your baby’s first day. Will the staff call you if your child hasn’t settled, to ask your advice? Can you call the nursery manager during your working day to reassure yourself that all is well?
3. Where will my baby take naps?
If your baby is used to peace and quiet at home, they may settle quicker at a nursery if there is a separate sleep room.
4. How much time do the children spend outside?
Although not a legal requirement, a good childcare setting will allow children plenty of outdoor play in all weathers. Are there waterproof trousers on standby? Are babies taken out in the fresh air every day, too?
5. Can I see this week’s menu?
Don’t rely on promises to serve “healthy” food – check the menu for yourself.
6. How will you let me know what my child’s eaten or how their toileting is going?
Does the nursery keep a record for you to take home or is the information kept somewhere easily accessible? It may sound like a minor point now, but many a working parent has agonised over whether their child has eaten their greens/drunk enough water/attempted the potty!
7. Will you let me know if my child isn’t developing as expected?
Do the nursery staff write regular observations on each child? Does each child have their own profile or Learning Journey? Look for a nursery that encourages parents to chat about their child’s progress on a daily basis. Parents’ Evenings can be very useful even at this young age.
8. Can I have a chat with the members of staff in my child’s room?
Spend a few minutes talking with the staff who will be caring for your child, directly. Do
they seem to enjoy their work? Are the nursery children happy in their company?
9. What level of qualifications do the staff have?
At least half of the staff must be qualified to Level 3. Look for a nursery where staff are actively encouraged to develop their professional skills through further training.
10. Will my child have a main carer?
Sometimes called the Key Person or Key Worker, this should be a single person who is a main point of contact for you and your child. They will probably put together your child’s profile and talk to you at Parents’ Evenings, too.