The very first nursery we visited, I decided to visit again on their Open day, to see how I will get on with nursery managers and what facilities they offer. You can see a massive different when they put up a show for you and when it's a random visit. Always good to compare these things. Long story short I didn't like staff members, not that I'm sexist but in the light of recent articles I have read I feel not comfortable with male staff members looking after my daughter but more so I didn't want L to pick up slang "You know what I mean, man" coming form a nursery nurse every other word is not something I would want L to pick up, so it was a big "NO".
Next nursery didn't have a garden attached to premises and a little balcony they have, is not always accessible due to slippery decking, it was also confirmed by a staff member that kids don't tend to go outside. Not only that shocked me the fact that they didn't say a word when L climbed onto a mattress (in her outdoor shoes) where kids sleep but also one of the nursery nurses was not interacting with other kids and choosing to sit in the corner listening to my conversation with other staff member.
Third nursery just didn't feel right, with it's massive activity rooms I didn't feel that we clicked as well as I didn't like that they had no grass in the garden area which is also facing people occasionally smoking right by it.
Visit to the fourth nursery was a random one, I didn't book an appointment but was welcomed anyway. I liked that L would be able to sleep on her own bed under the shelter on a fresh air, I liked that they didn't dismiss an idea of potty training and reassured me about that and many other things. It just felt right even thought it is furthest out of 5 nurseries.
Now to the question and tips:
Tip: Even though I didn't book an appointment to visit any of the nurseries on my list I would suggesting calling prior to your visit or you may be turned down at the door. Having said that when they least expect guests who can see the real nursery and staff, you can see what what it really is.
To be honest with you OFSTED report is something we didn't take into consideration at all, according to some sources these could be easily adjusted and do not reflect reality. I based my assessment on our experience there, our likes and dislikes.
It is a good practice to ask about their policies i.e. accident policy, illnesses, food allergies, drop off/pick up policy (to they charge if you are late for picking up, how strict/flexible they are with dropping off hours, who can drop off and pick up your child).
I have enquired about few things:
- ration of children to nursery nurse, if they have a key worker who would be responsible for taking a good care of your little one
- I have assessed the grounds and room sizes in general and a sleeping arrangements for the day. I'm not very keen on L sleeping on a floor even on a mattress I wanted her to have sleeping routine close to what she is used to at home. In L's nursery they provide beds and sleeping bags, those kids who are used to sleeping in a pram/stroller can sleep in a buggy
- Have a look at a menu (if the provide food and cook it on site, if not don't be afraid to ask about the food supplier and if they allow sweet snacks, drinks)
- Do they do trips out and where to? How much do they charge if they go to classes
- Do they aid in potty training and what is there policy on that
- How nursery will update you regarding your child's day and development. Some offer updates via Tapestry (online source where you can also add your comments or photos as well as keep an eye on your child) or paper daily report where you can comment in written form
- Do they hold parents evenings (where you can get to know other parents and meet and talk to other staff members as well as learn about your child's ups and downs or even ask additional questions
- Do they supply with wet wipes, nappies, drinks? What sort of drinks do they offer?
- Settling in procedures, price list ( for the full day, half a day, hourly rate, absence rate, registration fee). Do they accept payment via salary sacrifice scheme
- Do they adjust to fit your usual child's routine and if your child goes 5 days a week how would they go about settling/adjusting your child to the nursery routine?
- Fussy eaters, will they be able to assist if your child is a fussy eater
- How many change of clothing to bring in general and when potty training and what items your are expected to label and buy
- What's their policy on dummy? Will they allow a child to use it if used to it during nap times and when upset? The same with comforters.
There could be more questions or your questions could be different to mine, but it's all about how you feel and your child feels about the nursery/staff and how the nursery can adjust to suit your requirements.
Hope this could help some of you!