Wednesday, 8 January 2014

The Nursery search

So it happened. Rather too quickly from start to finish.  This little madam is officially enrolled at Nursery from February 4 full days a week.  Callum found out he had a job just before Christmas and on New years day (after the hubbub of the festive season had died down) it suddenly dawned on me that we really needed to look at nurseries quite urgently! I also realised that not many people blog in detail about the process, difficulties, questions etc so I will!

First of all, get a feeler out about how long waiting lists are in your area ASAP because you can never be too safe! I'm quite lucky in that the waiting lists where I live are either non existant or low, but someone told me that they are a YEAR in their area! A YEAR!!

We sat down and worked out firstly what days/how many days we needed the nursery to provide-think about if these days are flexible or if you need the nursery to have adhoc sessions.  Again, we are lucky where we live that nurseries offer both.  Once this was established, I set above researching nurseries in the local area and noting their attributes on a spreadsheet for easy comparison:

Weigh up what is most important to you; 
Do you want it to be close to home or work? 
Do you need long days? 
Do you want them to provide formula/food/nappies/wipes/cream? 
Do they need to have an Outstanding on Ofsted?
Do you want them to be with children of the same age?
Do you want value for money or would you rather pay a bit extra?
Do they accept salary sub childcare vouchers?

The next step for us was a visit, I would suggest making a list of questions to ask, e.g.-
How many children do they enrol in that age group at a time?
What is the staff/child ratio?
What is the timetable/curriculum?
What do they do to encourage ___ (walking/crawling/sitting)?
What is their discipline policy?
Do they have buggy storage? Is there a charge?
What nappies/formula etc do they use?

Just a quick pointer, I would suggest paying attention to the level that things are placed at (e.g. are the tables kid sized or adult sized)- I didn't think about this until our nursery pointed this out and now I can see just how important for child's development this is even from a young age.

I only visited 2 nurseries but I knew immediately that the second one was "The one".  I came away from the first nursery thinking that we would probably end up choosing it, but the second one made me notice how many flaws the other had or more the massive gap between "good" and "outstanding".  Lets just say, the second one had a bloody soft play ball pit room that they go in every day, for god's sake! But in seriousness, the manager of the second just seemed much more passionate about the nursery and I really did buy into the ethos! It means we have ended up going for the more expensive option but unlike the first nursery, this one has;
-biodegradable nappies plus formula included in the price
-the staff have all been there at least 4 years and are all mums themselves (whereas the first nursery had high turnover and young)
-all the staff are trained (first one had high numbers of untrained)
-High staff to child ratio so that they get one on one (whereas other nursery was 1:3).
-Goes up to pre school age and each age have high emphasis on development,sensory and imagination

I'll stop this post here but if you have any questions please feel free to ask as I have lots more to say! How did you find picking a nursery? I went on a roller coaster of emotions (first I wanted her to go, then I didn't) but am now so excited for her to start, all because of the standard of the nursery! She is going to learn so much there, I cannot wait to see! I am however, awfully dreading the period and times that she is inconsolable when I leave her there (those tears!) but I just have to rationalise it and remember that it part of being a parent-knowing when to let them go and give them independence in order for them to develop-can't keep her holed up in my arms forever!


  1. I'm hoping I won't need to use a nursery because my husband works shifts of 2 days 1 night then has 5 days off and my parents have agreed to have our little one (once she arrives) on the days he is at work, but I would find it a very hard decision to make! I don't know a huge amount about pre-school child care, but as a primary school teacher and early years and KS1 leader I have pretty high expectations! I would say go with your gut instinct. I have worked in schools with Ofsted reports ranging from satisfactory to outstanding and I honestly wouldn't place a huge amount of value on the reports. I think first impressions and gut feelings count and a lot comes down to management and staff and how passionate and how warm and caring they are. I hope your little one enjoys nursery. x

    1. AWhh my fingers are crossed for you! You're definitely right, reports arent always the be all and end all- I think your gut feeling tells you a lot. xx