More than 11,000. That’s how many day nurseries there are in the UK offering childcare for children up to five years old.
The question is: how do you go about finding the right nursery for you – and your child?
Choosing the perfect nursery can be both a daunting and overwhelming prospect – especially when you start looking into what’s on offer in your area.
What should you look for in a nursery? What questions should you ask? And do Oftsted reports really matter?
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We’ve had at least one child at the same nursery for the past 11 years, and as a mum of four people often ask me what they should look for when choosing the right nursery.
If you’re looking for the perfect nursery too and are wondering where to start, here are some important things to consider when choosing the right nursery for you and your child.
How to choose the right nursery for you & your child
1. From what age can they start?
Some nurseries take babies from as young as four months old, others from one year. If you’re going back to work knowing at what age your child can start at a particular nursery is a good place to start your search, so you can focus on specifically looking for a nursery for 1 year olds, for example.
2. Don’t be blinded by bling
When I say bling I mean the latest super duper equipment and sparkling surfaces. Of course, facilities matter – but just because things aren’t brand new doesn’t mean you should disregard a nursery.
I actually chose our children’s nursery because it was a bit rough around the edges and looked lived in – a bit like our house! – rather than being super clean and institutionalised like some of the other nurseries we visited. In fact, I’m a bit suspicious of nursery environments that appear too clean because I don’t understand how they can possibly keep them looking like that with so many kids running around!
3. Find out what Ofsted says
There tend to be two camps when it comes to Ofsted inspection reports – those who hang on every word and those who don’t – but either way it is useful to find out what’s said about a nursery on paper. Finding out what Ofsted says will give you an idea of how a nursery compares to those in your area and help you make the right decision for you and your child.
4. Talk to other mums & dads
If you really want to get the low down on a nursery there’s absolutely nothing wrong with lurking by the gate at drop off or pick up and asking parents with children already there what they have to say. I’ve been approached in this way in the past and have been more than happy to share our experience.
5. Is there outside space?
This was a really important question for me because we live in a flat with no garden, so finding a nursery with outside space was a must for us. The bonus about nurseries with a garden is that they also tend to offer activities like mud kitchens and the kind of messy play that you might not want to get involved in (and clean up!) at home.
6. Ask about communication
Some nurseries have webcams so you can check in and see what your little one is up to during the day; others use apps so you can log in and see photo updates and what they ate for lunch. Finding out how a nursery communicates with parents is key to managing your expectations going forward, and will give you piece of mind that your child is happy and well looked after while they’re away from you.
7. Trust your instincts
If you’re a regular follower of the blog you’ll know I’m a firm believer in trusting your instincts, and if something doesn’t feel right it probably isn’t. Just like buying a house, you’ll get a ‘feel’ for a nursery when you visit it and when you know you know. If a nursery doesn’t feel right it probably isn’t, and if it does it probably is!
Do you have any top tips on choosing the right nursery? I’d love to hear what they are!
This post was written in collaboration with Get Blogged.