A Comprehensive Guide to choosing the right Nursery for your Child 

Deciding on the right childcare can be a minefield for parents, so many things to be taken into consideration and agreed by all involved.  How to recognise a good setting for your child, needs a lot of time and consideration.

  • How do I know my child will be happy in this setting? 
  • Will all my child’s needs be met? 
  • Will there be feedback on how my child is progressing? 
  • How often does this happen? 
  • How do the staff deal with my child if they don’t like the nursery? 

There are many questions that need to be thought about before approaching a setting and making a visit.   

Firstly, you will need to know what hours your child can attend the setting, the cost, and if there are places available for the times you need.  This will determine whether it is worth even booking a visit. 

Make a list of settings you like the look of or have heard good things about, word of mouth is a wonderful thing, although every child is different. 

Once you have selected a few that are suitable for your budget, location, and timings, it is time to book a visit. 

It can be a good idea to visit each nursery a couple of times but don’t overwhelm yourself as you can always add another to your shortlist if one isn’t to your liking.  Perhaps the first visit could be without the child that will be attending so that you can have an uninterrupted conversation with the staff find out about their training and experience and you can gauge the atmosphere within the setting.  The building should be clean, safe, and welcoming with children who seem engaged and happy – organisation may not be something you will always experience – no bad thing! 

It is also important to ask about the daily “plan” – is there a structure? How regimented is it? It’s good to find out these points, as well as what different group activities free play time there is on offer, and if there are times for your child to relax and take a rest.  Do they, as a group, seem culturally sensitive and considerate of the children’s home lives?  It is also nice to know if they introduce topics such as conservation and follow the EYFS statutory framework. 

You may want to look at the Ofsted report before you attend your visit, this should be available on the Nursery website and you can then ask any questions you may have regarding their current Ofsted ranking. 

Practical and important questions are, the number of children in the setting at its fullest and also how many children they have on the register at the moment, and how many will attend at the same times as your child. 

Find out the age range of the children within the setting.  You need to know the staff ratio of the different aged children within the nursery. 

As well as talking to the Manager/Leader make sure you talk to the other staff just to get a feel of the place and the people. 

In most nurseries there will be a Key Worker scheme in place – you need to know the number of children per Key Worker and what the role of this person is for your child. 

It is good to know the basic Health & Safety polices, these should be feely available for you to see.  Such things as the way they deal with children’s behavior and any policies on discipline. 

Are meals and snacks provided along with essentials such as nappies and wipes or do these need to be provided by you?  You will need to find out the bathroom routine as it is a good thing to try and encourage the routine at home to get the child ready for the nursery setting.  Are they assisted with their toileting or do they have to be independent? This can change from setting to setting. 

Finally, if you feel happy and have no concerns about the setting, book another time for you and your child to visit to see both the welcome and reaction from the staff at the setting and how your child takes to being there. 

Once all this has been done it just leaves the booking of your child’s place and hours at the setting and also whether you have to pay a retaining fee for the hours booked and do they have a “new starters” policy – sometimes the child is asked to attend for a few hours over a few days just so they can settle in a calm and relaxed manner and you can be sure this is the right nursery for you and your child.