Questions to ask when choosing a nursery
1. Are you free to visit the nursery at any time or do they have set times for viewings? If they do, ask why.
2. When viewing the rooms is there evidence of children’s own work and not adults?
3. Are things at child level?
4. Do the rooms feel homely? Is there any domestic furniture?
5. Are there any cosy areas in the room?
6. Where are the adults when you walk into the room? Are they interacting with the children or are they taken up with other routine tasks or chatting to one another?
7. Can the children in all rooms access an outdoor area on a continuous/daily basis? Think about how much time they will spend indoors?
8. Ask if there is a key person system and how it works? You want to know if there is an adult who forms a close relationship with both you and your child.
9. How often do the children move rooms? Too many room changes can affect children emotionally.
10. What is the staff turnover? Frequently changing staff can have an impact on the attachments that your child will form and can affect their emotional wellbeing.
11. Are the children in the rooms happy and content?
12. Are the children exploring and investigating?
13. Where are babies put to sleep?
14. Are babies put to sleep outside? When we advocate this we get looks of surprise but trees are nature’s mobiles and fresh air prevents the spread of infections.
15. When choosing a nursery for a baby always look at what the experiences will be for a child as they move through a nursery. My research has shown that parents are often very happy with the care that their child received as a baby but felt disappointed with the experiences as their child moved rooms.
16. What systems are in place for the sharing of information about a child’s development?
17. Ask about the induction/settling in process. How will the nursery staff get to know you and your child? Do they conduct home visits?
18. Is there a shift pattern for staff which ensures that you will see the same member of staff at drop off and pick up times?
19. Ask to see the menus so that you can ensure that your child is getting good nutritional food. I would also ask about the times of the meals; I am frequently disturbed that some nurseries are giving children their lunches at 11.00 just to suit the needs of organising staff lunches. You want to be able to have the same pattern for eating/mealtimes that you will have at the week end so that your child is part of this very important social family time.
If you’re still trying to decide on the right childcare for your family, take a look at our questions to ask yourself when choosing childcare to help you make your decision.