Not only are you not with them, to take care of their needs and make sure they are safe. You are sending them to somewhere where you don't really know the people who will be looking after them and so of corse you wonder will they be okay? What if my child's needs aren't understood? What if they spend the entire day crying?
But at some point there is going to be a time where you are just going to have to bite the bullet and send your child to a nursery. So best thing you can do is make sure they go to the right nursery.
So today I registered Lily to a local Nursery and even though I have Nursery Experience and know Lily will be fine I still have my nervous thoughts about it all. What has made it much better for me is that I made sure when I visited the nursery I knew all I had to know to make sure that Lily will be going to the right nursery for her.
So here is a guide of things that I think you should look out for when visiting and questions I think are important you ask.
Things to Look Out For
The first thing to look for when you are entering a nursery is security. Do they have a locked gate with camera or voice security? To exit the nursery do they have high buttons up on walls so children can't escape?
When you enter the Nursery take a look around. Do they have photographs of the staff on the walls? What about children's work? I like to see nurseries with lots on the walls. Do they seem recent? EG Not Christmas pictures at Easter. Not only does it mean that the nursery does some great activities with the children but they also help children recognise achievement and it is important to them to keep what the children see up on the walls fresh and new.
Do children have access to resources and toys through out the day? Can they help them selves to them? I always think that its important that they can choose what they want to play with and have access to things like books and drawing though out the day.
Are the staff interacting with the children? Look to see how much enthusiasm the staff have with the children. Are they smiling? This is a really important one for me.
Do the other children look happy? Are they running around the room like crazy or are they behaving/playing with toys. If the children are running around rather than playing, thats a sign that they are bored.
Is the place a little messy? Its actually a good thing for it to be a little messy. It means the children have been playing and instead of the staff making sure that every single inch of sand is up off the floor 24/7 they are playing with the children instead.
It really isn't a bad thing to take in every detail but also don't fuss over the little things to much. It really isn't a big deal that the staff are in every day clothes rather than a uniform. In my opinion it means they focus on more important things.
Questions to Ask
When choosing the right nursery it is important you ask as many questions as you can. Having nursery experience I knew all the questions to ask and asked a lot. But here are some that I think are quite important that you make sure you know.
What is the security for people picking the children up? An acceptable answer would be that they have passwords and photographs of people that are aloud to pick the children up.
Is there water available for children to drink at all times?
Do all the children get outdoor time at least once a day? Surprisingly I have worked in nurseries that didn't give every child outdoor time.
Does my child have a Key Worker? I was really happy at the Nursery that Lily is going to be attending that she gets 2 key workers.
Does your child get a folder of work that you get to see? I really like this aspect of nurseries and would be disappointed if they didn't.
Its really important that your child spends most their time having fun at nursery, but also important that they are learning and the nursery is sticking to the EYFS ( Early Years Foundation Stage). If they don't mention this to do then definetly ask. Its something your nursery should know all about.
Ask about sleep and meal times. Make sure that they get snacks and have somewhere to sleep if they are there for a full day.
Will there be a settling in process? Most nurseries do now offer this, you can also ask if you are aloud more if your child doesn't settle fast.
Before asking all these questions you will hopefully get told most things like what resources they have and routines so I have tried to focus on things they may not have mentioned. The person answering your questions should have an immediate answer about everything you ask, which for me really gives me confidence that they are truthful and know what they are talking about.
Of corse you may have other things you need to ask which are for the individual needs of your child and all nurseries are different and some more than others but I hope that I have given you a few things that may help when choosing the right nursery for your child.
I will let you know how Lily gets on with the nursery we have placed her in soon.
What questions would you ask when visiting a nursery?