My Eight Tips For Choosing the Right Nursery
I don’t know about you but when I had a baby, I knew I’d be going back to work. I just knew I wasn’t cut out to stay at home until b went to school. I enjoy working and I wanted to go back for me. I write more about being a working mum here.
I was worried though about what would happen with b and as soon as he was born, the prospect of returning to work was fairly daunting – even though it was almost a year away! I knew that some nurseries had waiting lists and I wanted to give ourselves enough time to visit a few and consider all our options. Did we want to go with a nursery or did we want to go with a child minder? Should we pick a nursery close to where we live or close to where I work?
So many questions!
Nursery, Child Minder or Family?
For us, having family look after b was out of the question. My parents live in Hertfordshire and Mr D’s parents had just retired. Although I know they would have considered looking after him, they just didn’t need to be tied down a couple of days a week. It’s time for them to enjoy retirement and make the most of their free days – not be stuck looking after a toddler all week!
I also wasn’t keen on the child minder option. I preferred the idea of a structured nursery setting. And with all that in mind, we started looking around a few nurseries in the Weston-super-Mare area. I wanted to get a feel for as many as possible and understand the differences. What does a good Ofsted rating mean when compared with excellent? I honestly had no idea. My only thought was, how do I know the people working at the nursery will care for my child properly?!
As with most things, first impressions count for a lot – being greeted with a warm and friendly welcome when you enter, and seeing straight away that the nursery is secure- always a bonus.
We visited a few nurseries in the area and in the end we decided to go with Busy Bees in Weston-super-Mare. We really liked that the facility is a purpose built nursery rather than a building that has been adapted to fit a nursery. We also felt that because they are a national chain of nurseries, they had a lot more to offer than local nurseries in the area.
Here are some things that helped us when we were making the nursery choice:
- Look around a few different nurseries and explore your options. How does the nursery feel when you walk in – welcoming and professional?
- Read the Ofsted reports but also take them with a pinch of salt. Keep in mind that these reports are based on a one day observation. In my opinion, as long as the nursery was getting a good, I was happy with this.
- Be sure to ask questions. Don’t be afraid to speak up if something worries you are something doesn’t make sense. For some reason I was obsessed with b choking to death so I wanted to understand what first aid training the carers had received. In the end I figured they’d had more than I ever had, and I stopped worrying.
- Observe the children in their surroundings – are they happy, what are they doing? I remember walking round when we visited and the pre-schoolers were all having lunch. They were so well behaved, clearing their plates and tidying up!
- Don’t be afraid to visit again if you need to.
- No question is a stupid question. Just ask away. A good nursery will want to answer your questions.
- Don’t be afraid to ask to speak to some of the parents to get their opinion too. If your nursery run a parent partnership programme, feel free to enquire about speaking with those parents.
- Also, when your child starts nursery, try and be realistic. I’m going to pop another post together on this but I should have realised early on that he WOULD have accidents – minor of course – but it is NORMAL for kids to fall over or trip!
Our Nursery Journey
All in all, we have been super happy with little man’s happiness and development at Busy Bees. He has bonded with so many of the carers and not just his key people. He has made friends and he genuinely likes going to nursery. I also think it helps that he goes four full days a week and has been since he was eleven months. This is a constant for him. You can read more about our nursery journey here, where I chat about our move from the toddler room to pre-school. Or you can take a look at how I get involved at the nursery here, doing some fun food with the kids.
So there we go, my tips for finding the right nursery for your child. What experiences have you had? Good? Bad? What childcare options did you choose or do you stay at home?