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How to Choose a Nursery For Your Child

Our Director of Early Years, Rageena, explores the factors to consider and provides a list of essential questions to ask when evaluating whether a provider is right for you. 

A joyful teacher interacts with a young child over a table filled with dinosaur toys in a classroom, expressing excitement and engagement in a playful educational setting.

Selecting the right childcare for your child is a significant decision that can have a profound impact on their development and well-being. It can be quite confusing deciding between a day nursery, childminder, preschool, nanny. To help you make an informed decision, below I explore the factors to consider and provide a list of essential questions to ask when evaluating whether a provider is right for you.

What are your needs?

Before you start your childcare search, it’s essential to understand your family’s specific needs and priorities. Consider factors such as location, hours of operation, and cost. Also consider what is important to you; is it simply childcare that you require or do you want to ensure your child is also being educated and supported with their development. Knowing your priorities will help you narrow down your options and make the decision-making process more manageable.

Safety and Hygiene

Safety is paramount when it comes to your child’s care. Be sure to inquire about safety measures, including the presence of fire alarms, first aid kits, and emergency procedures. Additionally, observe the cleanliness and hygiene of the provider, including the food preparation and nappy-changing areas.

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Qualifications and Ratios

Qualified and experienced educators play a pivotal role in your child’s development. Ask about the staff’s qualifications, background checks, and ongoing training. Find out the adult-to-child ratio, and enquire how that is maintained for consistency throughout the day.

Curriculum and Educational Philosophy

Consider the providers approach to early childhood education. Is there a structured curriculum in place? What types of activities and learning experiences are offered to children? A good provider should provide a balance of free play, structured activities, and age-appropriate learning opportunities.

Communication with Parents

Strong communication between parents and providers is essential. Ask how they keep parents informed about their child’s daily activities and progress. This might include daily reports, regular meetings, or an app that allows parents to stay connected. 

Flexibility and Hours

Evaluate the hours of operation to ensure they align with your work schedule. Some providers will offer extended hours or flexible scheduling, which can be a significant advantage for working parents.

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Meals and Snacks

Inquire about the meal plans and policies. If your child has dietary restrictions or allergies, make sure they can accommodate these needs. We would always favour a menu that offers a variety of different foods, textures and flavours. Some providers also have their menus accredited by external trained nutritionists/agencies.

Outdoor Play and Physical Activity

Physical activity is essential for a child’s development. Ensure there’s a variety of age-appropriate outdoor equipment. Ask about the availability of outdoor play areas, as well as the policy on outdoor play in different weather conditions. If you are hesitant for your child to be out in cold or wet weather, talk to the provider about your concerns.

Health and Illness Policies

It’s crucial to understand the policies regarding children’s health and illness. Find out what happens when a child is sick, as well as vaccination requirements. This is especially important as there are exclusion periods that providers will be bound by which will require you to find alternative childcare when necessary.

A young child and an adult man engage with a colorful stacking toy at a wooden table, with a green plant visible to the side. the child, focused, is wearing a plaid shirt.

Partnership with Parents

Explore the level of parental involvement encouraged by the provider. Some settings will offer opportunities for parents to volunteer or participate in events, which can create a sense of community and engagement. 

Reviews and References

Don’t hesitate to ask for references from other parents who have used the setting. Additionally, check online reviews and ratings to gain insight into other families’ experiences. But don’t believe everything you read! There are always 2 sides to an incident and reviews could be historic where the provider has since made improvements. If you have seen or read something that you are concerned about, ask the provider to give more detail.

Visit the setting and meet the team

Once you’ve gathered all the necessary information, visit the setting in person. Observe the atmosphere, the interaction between educators and children, and the overall cleanliness and organisation. Ask as many questions as possible about anything you see or hear. Are the staff and management team open, friendly and welcoming? Trust your instincts; if something doesn’t feel right or the offering doesn’t meet your needs, let the manager know. It may be something they can look to implement or work around, if not, they will use the feedback constructively to improve.

How to Choose the Right Nursery with Factors Every Parent Should Consider 5

Questions to Ask When Visiting a Setting

The questions you ask will be based on your own needs and priorities but here are a few examples to get you started: 

  • What is the adult-to-child ratio, and how do you maintain it?
  • What are the qualification levels and experience of your staff?
  • How do you handle emergencies e.g. fire drills or intruders, and what safety measures are in place?
  • Can you describe the daily routine and curriculum for my child’s age group?
  • How do you communicate with parents about their child’s progress and daily activities?
  • Are there any additional fees or hidden costs I should be aware of?
  • What is the process for settling in my child?
  • How do you handle discipline and behaviour issues with the children?
  • What is your policy regarding sick children?
  • Are there any other circumstances in which my child will be excluded?
  • How do you ensure my child’s dietary needs are met, including any allergies or restrictions?
  • What outdoor play facilities and equipment do you have?
  • Are there opportunities for parental involvement?

Remember, that a great childcare is not only a safe and nurturing environment but also a place where your child can thrive and grow.



Director of Early Years

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