Nursery, How to choose, best nursery
Choosing a nursery for your child is one of the most important decisions you make. You want to make sure that your child is safe and happy at nursery. The best way to choose a nursery that is right for you and your child, is to visit some.
While recommendations are good, not one nursery suits every family and you need to see each nursery in action. By finding out the answers to the following questions, during your visit, you should be well informed to make a choice that is right for you and your child.
1. Is the nursery safe?
Being sure that your child is well looked after in a safe environment is of paramount importance. You can assess the level of safety as you look around the nursery.
Are there safety gates that ensure that the children cannot wander off the site? Is there a system in place at the beginning and the end of the day to ensure that children do not wander out with other children?
How do visitors gain access during the day? Check that plugs are covered, internal gates are kept closed, fire exit routes and equipment are well signed posted. Ask what the procedures are when a child gets injured, is there a trained school nurse? What are the ratios of staff to children – is there enough to ensure good supervision?
2. Are the children well cared for emotionally?
Is there a policy for settling in and do the children have one key person who they can have a trusting and safe relationship with?
Are children treated in a kind and caring way, with adults speaking to children in a positive manner?
Every child is unique and deserves to be treated as an individual. Do staff know each child and are able to respond to their needs and interests?
3. Is the nursery clean and hygienic?
Young children are more vulnerable to germs and are not old enough to carry out hygienic practices independently. It is important that there are procedures to minimise risks. What routines does the nursery have in place to ensure that everything is kept clean – toys, bathrooms, kitchens, changing areas etc?
4. Are parents welcomed and valued?
Parents are their children’s first and most enduring educator. Does the nursery welcome this and value all parents, with regular contact and good communication?
5. Is the environment enriching?
Is the nursery well maintained and bright? Are there examples of children’s work well displayed?
Are the resources varied and adequate? Are there different areas in which the children can play?
6. Is there enough space to play?
There should be adequate space – both indoors and outside – to allow children to play happily and safely.
7. What is the background of the staff?
Are staff trained to work with young children, understanding how young children learn and how to care for each unique individual?
Trained and experienced staff will be able to meet children’s needs by providing for the next step in their learning. Are the staff good role models to the children?
Children learn by watching the people around them and will pick up on the ways that adults talk to each other and how they conduct themselves.
8. Are there behavioural expectations and routines?
Children need routines and boundaries. They need to know what to expect and to understand how their day is going to progress. By having routines children feel safe. Having clear behavioural expectations allows all children to enjoy being at nursery in a safe environment. Parents can see evidence of this in the way that the days’ activities are structured and how the children behave and how staff respond to undesirable behaviour.
9. Are the activities age appropriate?
Young children learn best through being involved in active play. Through play children learn to be independent, try out their ideas about the world, making connections between past and present learning. Children should be actively playing for most of their day and not sitting for long periods of time.
10. How convenient is the location?
If you can find a nursery that is close to your home that meets all above criteria – even better! Walking to nursery is so much nicer than having to sit in traffic for long periods of time. If the nursery is farther away from your home, ask if any other parents come from your area, it is good to have someone to lift share with, either on a regular or occasional basis.
Once you have found out the answers to your questions, either by seeing for yourself or asking for extra information, you should be well informed to make a decision that enables a happy time for you and your child at nursery.