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- Baby’s First Nursery
By the time your baby reaches his or her first birthday, you might be thinking about returning to work and may have decided to put your baby in a nursery during the day.
Ideally you’ll have thought about this months in advance, but here are some of the key things that you should consider and ask about when choosing a good nursery for your baby.
Other local parents are a great source information when you initially start doing your research on local nurseries. Find out which are the most sought after nurseries in the area. Ask them to tell tales of their good and bad experiences. Local Internet forums are also a hive of information on this subject. Parents love to chat, so make the most of what they have to tell you, so that you can make an informed decision about which nursery to choose for your child.
It is against the law for childcare providers looking after children under the age of 8 to have failed to register as child minders with Ofsted, so this should be your absolute first check when considering a nursery. Each nursery that has correctly registered will have been presented with a certificate that they should be happy to show you.
Ofsted completes regular checks on the standard of each nursery. You can find the results of each of their reports on the Ofsted website, so swot up on the record of each of your potential nurseries before committing to sending your baby to one.
This is where you need to know your NVQs (National Vocational Qualifications). At least 50% of the staff at a nursery, should hold an NVQ Level 2 in childcare with supervisory members of staff holding at least a Level 3. There should also be at least one member of staff with a certification in first aid.
As a rule of thumb the less children there are per staff member, the better as it means that your child is more likely to get the attention that he or she requires. For children aged between 0 and 2, there should be no more than 3 children per adult, between ages 2 and 3 there should be no more than 4 children per adult and for those aged between 3-5, there should be no more than 8 children per adult.
Talk to the nursery staff and see if they appear to be happy in their jobs. Although you have absolutely no control over their future plans and careers, you might be able to gauge an idea of whether they’re planning to stick around for a while. Stability is key in raising your child. It’s also important to find out how much one-on-one time your baby will be getting with staff and how much time will be spent doing certain age appropriate activities that are key to the development of your child.
It’s almost of the utmost importance that you talk to staff about their policy and methods of enforcing discipline.
Health and Safety
You should feel absolutely confident that there is no way for your child to wander out of the nursery, or for any unauthorised person to enter the building without being stopped by a member of staff. Make sure you speak to the nursery staff so that they’re able to answer any concerns that you may have about building access.
The actual nursery itself should be clean, tidy and safe with all kitchen and bathroom areas being cleaned regularly.
It’s essential to choose a nursery that will incorporate a healthy, nutritious and well-balanced diet into your baby’s time at nursery. If your child has any allergies or if you’re choosing to raise them with certain dietary requirements such as being vegetarian or following a diet based on religious beliefs, then question how the staff will be flexible in providing your child with the food that he or she eats at home.
What is the nursery’s approach to teaching your child? Is there a structured curriculum incorporating creative, mental, physical and play times? Are the activities that take place at nursery age appropriate? A 1 year old will have very different requirements and abilities to a 3 year old, so you’ll need to talk to staff to ascertain how the children are divided up. Ideally there will be different rooms for different age groups, but at the very least, the activities between the groups should be different.
As mentioned previously, playtime is an important part of any child’s life as it encourages them to socially interact with others and also promotes creativity and expression. Ideally there will be an outdoor space for your child to play in. As they got older and are able to walk or run, it’s good to provide your child with space to run around in and let off steam, not least so they’re tired enough to sleep later on.
Facilities and equipment
It’s important to know how well your child will be mentally stimulated throughout the day. Check that the nursery you’re looking at has a full range of toys, books and playtime equipment so that you feel that their mental development will be enhanced as much as possible through the time that your child spends at nursery.
Although we’ve left this at the bottom of the list, we know that your personal circumstances will play a huge part in deciding whether or not to choose a particular nursery. The cost of the nursery will be significant, as childcare in the UK is largely deemed to be quite expensive. Also the convenience of the nursery in terms of location and opening hours will be important to you. You’ll most likely to want the nursery to be either close to your home or to your place of work, to make the dropping off and picking up of your child go as smoothly as possible. Some nurseries may have quite flexible opening hours, whereas others will make it almost impossible to be able to drop off your child without being late for your work. You may need to also talk to your boss and colleagues about a flexible working situation.
There are many conversations to be had before you choose a nursery. The best advice we can give you is to give yourselves as much time as possible, so that you end up with a nursery that you feel is right for your baby.