How to choose a Children’s day nursery

How do I find a children's day nursery?

Choosing a day nursery is one the biggest decisions you will make regarding your child’s wellbeing and development for many years. It is vitally important that you are 100% happy with the childcare provision that you choose. With this in mind we encourage all of our enquiring parents to take the time to view lots of nurseries.

What should I ask or look for when visiting a childcare provider?

Choosing someone to care for your child is an important and often difficult decision. Here are some hints and questions to help you make the right choice. Why not print this page and take it with you when you visit?

  • We do not believe that you should ever be made to make an appointment to view a day nursery. If the nursery is not expecting you, you are more likely to get a true picture of what its like.
  • Ask lots of questions to all the staff, not just the person showing you around.
  • Always ask about staff retention and length of service. Continuity of carer is very important for children.
  • Ask how many staff hold a relevant childcare qualification.
  • Do not just visit once, take as many visits as you need- dropping in on different days and times of the day is also advisable. This will give a true picture of the whole day.
  • Have a good look outdoors and the use of space, the area outside does necessarily need to be vast, but should be well equipped and organised into areas.

Find out about the nursery setting

  • What are the opening times? can you get earlier starts or later finishes?
  • What age range do they take?

Find out about the nursery staff

  • Who is in charge?
  • What experience in childcare and what qualifications does that person have?
  • Who will be personally responsible for your child's progress, and how qualified is that person?
  • What is the ratio of staff to children, and how many of the staff are qualified? More than half the staff must hold a childcare qualification equivalent to NVQ3 (NNEB, BTEC).
  • Will more than one adult supervise your child's group?
  • What will happen in the case of an illness or emergency for your child?

Find out about the nursery care provided

  • What are the procedures for settling in new children?
  • What type of food is provided?
  • What is the policy on “Treat” food?
  • How do they cope with food allergies or special dietary needs?
  • Will there be a planned progression of activities and skills throughout the year, or primarily just play?
  • What are the policies on behaviour management and discipline? How do you feel about them?
  • Have the children been taught to behave towards others in a thoughtful and considerate way?

Nursery visit checklist

How to choose a Children's day nursery
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