Geoff Millington, managing director at NurserySite, shares his top tips on what to look for when choosing the best possible nursery or pre-school setting for your child:
Know your requirements
What factors are most important to you? Perhaps the provisions made for children with disabilities or special educational needs? Or is it the nursery’s reputation, opening hours, location or size that mean the most to your family? Make a list of important factors and rate them before asking yourself, which do you not want to compromise on?
It’s a good idea to ask for recommendations or see what people are saying online, especially if you have any specific requirements for your child. Ask other parents which nurseries they have used or would recommend. Get in contact with your local primary school who may have a list of the nurseries and pre-schools in the area that their teachers and parents would recommend.
Check out the nursery’s website
Before visiting a nursery, you can tell a great deal about it from its website. A good website should include details of the nursery’s staff, facilities, learning approach, safeguarding policies, a news and events page, as well as images and videos of the nursery environment. You should compare a few different websites and note down which nurseries stand out to you and why. Take a look at the latest news page to see what is currently happening at the nursery. You may also want to check out the events calendar to see what is coming up; there may be things you could get involved in to help get to know other families.
Book a visit beforehand
Observing the environment, children and staff during a visit and talking to the staff in person is invaluable. It also gives you the opportunity to explore the facilities and ask questions about class sizes, learning approaches, a typical day or any other queries you have. It’s a good idea to make a list of questions before you go, so you can ask the nursery manager in person. This should put your mind at ease if you have any particular concerns. However, trust your instinct. You can usually get a good feel for the environment based on first impressions – is the building well maintained? Does it feel safe? Are the staff friendly and welcoming? Most importantly, do the children there seem happy and engaged?
Begin your search early!
Timing is crucial. The most popular nurseries get booked up as much as a year in advance so make sure that you don’t leave it until the last minute. However, choosing the right nursery for your child is an important decision so don’t rush it either!