It can be a really daunting process choosing the right nursery or nursery school for your child. Every provider will tell you that they are the best, but what does that really mean? What you look for in a setting can be very different and specific to your family circumstances, so it is really important that you get a good idea of what will work for the whole family. There are many factors to consider; location, reputation, availability, price, and what the nursery itself offers.
At The Kindergartens, we would always be delighted if you chose one of our nursery schools, but we understand that the choice of a nursery or nursery school is as personal and individual as your child themselves. Here are some top tips for choosing the right nursery or nursery school:
- Visit a few different settings – Whether you have a clear idea of the type of nursery you are looking for or not, visiting a variety of settings is a great way to decide what you like and what you don’t. Sometimes this can just be a feeling, but sometimes this is more about the nursery environment itself – Is the setting well-resourced? Does it provide the facilities you are looking for, for your child? How did the team members interact with you and your child? It’s a great way to build a shortlist of nurseries that might be right for them.
- It is never too soon to start looking at nurseries and nursery schools. Many parents ask “When should I register for a nursery?” and the answer really is as soon as you know you’ll need to secure a place. Many nurseries and nursery schools will welcome you for a tour before your child is born, encouraging you to stay connected with the setting throughout pregnancy and maternity or paternity leave, right up until your child is likely to start.
- How much does nursery cost? This can vary wildly – It really does depend on the nursery, location and what they offer. Once you have an idea of what you will be looking for in a nursery (point 1), this allows you to get a better feel for what will provide the best value for your family. Value won’t necessarily be the lowest price – Consider the level of staff training, what the nursery provides, its Ofsted rating, its location, as well as other factors that matter to you.
- Find out if you are entitled to any funding, from the Government or your workplace. A great guide to help you find out about any support or entitlements for childcare can be found on the gov.uk website.
- Speak to friends, family and other parents in your community. Recommendations are an extremely powerful tool when helping to decide on a nursery for your child. A good, supportive network is a great place to seek advice and guidance.
- Look at nursery reviews. There are some fantastic websites, blogs and forums online to help you discover highly recommended nurseries in your area. Online communities such as Mumsnet can be a great resource, as well as Google and Facebook reviews. Daynurseries.co.uk is also good place to read real parents experiences with a particular setting.
- Local parent groups. There are many local parent groups to be found, from those online and on Facebook, to others with in person meet ups, coffee mornings and family friendly activities. The National Childbirth Trust – NCT hosts many events within the charity, but also holds details of other parent and baby focused groups and events in your local community. These are also a great way to meet parents with similar aged children, and hear about their experiences with local nurseries.
- You might want to consider bringing a friend or family member along when you are ready to tour some nurseries. It’s great to have another opinion when making such a hugely important decision and if they have experience of what to look out for and ask, it will help to ensure you get all the information you need to make the right choice.
- Ask about the nursery settling in procedure. Once you’ve chosen a setting and feel confident that it will be the right one for your child, it is important that the nursery supports you and your little one in a successful transition from home. Settling in sessions and stay and plays can really help to make sure they feel happy and confident on their first day.
- Lastly, we would recommend that you view a nursery more than once – Try and see it in the morning on one day and the afternoon on another so you get a good feel for how the setting operates throughout the day. Many nurseries will welcome second or even third visits so don’t be afraid to ask if you have more questions or want to explore one of your shortlisted nurseries further. View a number of rooms and ask which ones your child is likely to progress to as they get older so that you get an idea of how the setting manages transitions.
We do hope that these tips help you in choosing the right nursery for your child. If of course you would like to choose from within The Kindergartens family, we would be delighted to show you around and answer any questions you may have abut our nursery schools.