Concerned about finding the right nursery for your child? How do you choose? What are the best things to look for and how do you know whether the nursery is right for your child? We spoke to several experts and nurseries to find out what you should be asking and how you can support your little ones when you first enrol them.
Once you have decided that it’s time for your child to go to nursery, you have to decide what type of curriculum you are looking for, the distance you are prepared to travel, and the available budget. Be prepared to visit several nurseries before making a final decision. Reach out to the nurseries and arrange tours.
It’s also very important to ask about the staff ratios in class and the number of children in the classroom per day
When touring a nursery, look out for the amount of space the children have; this is important. How many different areas of play inside and outside are they able to go to and how often? What facilities do they have for the warmer months when the children are not able to be outside? How happy do the staff look? Are they warm and welcoming? How do they communicate with parents? Ask about the policies and procedures surrounding meal times, behavioural management, and support with potty training.
It’s also very important to ask about the staff ratios in class and the number of children in the classroom per day, as well as the qualifications the teachers and assistants hold and the annual staff turnover. Certain aspects of nursery life are more important to some than others. For example, a younger child would need to sleep during the day. So ask about the sleep room and policy around sleeping. Are they with an adult the whole time? Are they able to sleep when they want to? What is the settling-in policy?
A good indication you have got it right is how supported you feel as a family
Have I Done the Right Thing?
Naturally, once a decision has been made, it’s human nature to think, “Have I done the right thing?” “Was that other nursery better?” So how can parents set their minds at rest that they have made the right decision? A good indication you have got it right is how supported you feel as a family and how your child settles and responds to the teacher and surroundings whilst they are there. Do the children talk positively about their day when they get home? Are they excited to go back?
Not everything will run smoothly of course. Transitioning into a nursery can be an unsettling time for both children and their parents, but the children must not feel their parents’ anxieties, as this will make them more anxious. Look out for changes in a child’s routine. Has their sleeping been affected? Do they seem clingier when they get home? Or do they get upset when you leave the room when they didn’t before? Have they started having toileting accidents again? It is very normal for a child to be affected in this way.
Consequently, it’s important to support early learners when they start at a new nursery, with honesty being at the top of the list. Let them know where they are going and for how long. Take the children for a tour of the chosen nursery at least once so they can visualise where they are going and get excited about what they have seen. Talk positively about the nursery and how excited you are for them that they are going to make lots of friends and enjoy themselves. Show photos of the teacher and assistants so they recognise a face on their first day. Make it fun!