Every child deserves the best possible start in life and support to fulfil their potential. A child’s experience in the early years has a major impact on their life chances. A secure, safe and happy childhood is important in its own right, and it provides the foundation for children to make the most of their abilities and talents as they grow up. When parents choose to use a nursery they need to know the provision will keep their child safe and help them to thrive.
What to look for? All day nurseries should be registered and inspected by the appropriate authority and the registration certificate should on display. A nursery should have clearly established policies and procedures in place from administering medication to dealing with emergencies. All the policies should be made available to parents to view and if requested taken away to read. Talk to nursery practitioners when you visit the nursery, they are going to be an important person during your child’s time at nursery and it’s important you feel comfortable and confident leaving your child in their care. Some staff will be qualified and some may be working towards a qualification. Qualifications are important but equally important are the feelings you get from the practitioners: Are they caring, alert and do they communicate well with you and your child? All practitioners should have the relevant checks completed prior to working in the nursery and if you want to ask the manager to confirm this just ask. You are thinking of leaving your child with people you don’t know so you must feel comfortable and confident doing this.
Children learn and develop through play; nursery practitioners should be providing play experiences that enable each child to expand their knowledge and skills to support their individual learning and development. The nursery should have a wide range of age appropriate toys and activities including sand, water, and messy play. A nursery should have an outdoor area and ensure children go outside every day. If a nursery doesn’t have an outdoor space, practitioners should take children on regular visits to local places like the park and places of interest. Even if it’s raining or cold when you visit the nursery, ask to see the outside area and hopefully, you will find some children having fun splashing in puddles!
What to do after the visit? When you leave the nursery it is important to reflect on the visit and make some notes to ensure you have all the information you need when you make your final decision. A few questions to ask yourself might be: did you and your child enjoy the visit? Were the team friendly? Did they respond and communicate with you and your child? Did the nursery appear clean, safe and secure? How would you rate the nursery environment, both indoors and out? Did the nursery make you feel welcome, confident and relaxed? What are the fees and what do they cover? Would you be happy leaving your child at the nursery?
Finally, never be afraid to visit the nursery again, drop in unannounced or contact them if you have further questions. A good quality nursery will be happy to answer your questions or welcome you back for a further visit. Choosing a nursery is an important decision. If you are not happy with any aspect, ask for more information or look elsewhere. You have to know you’ve made the right decision for you and your child.