5 Signs of A Nursery You Can Trust
Imagine leaving your precious baby with someone else—essentially, a stranger, every workday. Feeling queasy? You’re not alone.
In 2019, 43.8% of parents with a child aged 0- to 4-years-old decided to make a change to their employment setup for childcare reasons. It’s a tough decision, especially for first-time parents. However, if you’re planning to go back to the grind, there are options available for you.
The UK has excellent childcare options available, from nannies to babysitters and more. One of your best options, especially if you need to go to work during the day, is to find a nursery. While this may be a source of worry for a lot of parents, a study from the London School of Economics and Oxford University found that nurseries are actually beneficial, as these can help kids develop their social and everyday skills.
Many nurseries offer exceptional, safe environments with licensed and trained staff. It can, however, be overwhelming if you don’t know where to begin. Watch out for these signs so you’ll know that your child will be in good hands.
1. Do They Have a Good Reputation?
One of the first routes to take is to ask for recommendations from your friends and family. A nursery that comes highly recommended by other parents is a good start. You can also search for any online reviews, whether on forums or social media groups.
However, do take any review you come across with a grain of salt. Remember that every family is different, so one parent’s glowing feedback may not necessarily apply to your (and your child’s) needs.
2. Do They Have Adequate Facilities?
While it’s helpful for parents to find some background data online, it’s still best to visit the nursery and assess their facilities in person. Photos on a nursery’s website, for instance, may be wildly different from their actual rooms. So if you have your eyes set on one or two (or more) nurseries, call them and schedule a visit.
Once you’re at the location, let your eyes roam. There are several things you need to look for:
Check the staff-to-child ratio. This is not just about how many adults are in the room; it’s also about how many are aptly qualified. As a guideline, the National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children (NSPCC) recommends the following adult-to-child ratio:
- 0 to 2 years – one adult to three children
- 2 to 3 years – one adult to four children
- 4 to 8 years – one adult to six children
The nursery should look bright and clean, and feel warm and inviting. Don’t be afraid to look at each corner of every room and see if they are childproofed. While expensive and flashy toys look great, they should, at the end of the day, be geared towards helping your child’s development.
Do they provide age-appropriate activities? How are the days structured? Will there be opportunities to be physically active to help with their health and development? Play should also be a crucial part of the learning environment for babies and toddlers as research shows it contributes greatly to their physical, social, cognitive, and emotional well-being.
Pro tip: Don’t stop at one visit. You can visit again at varied hours to see the carers at different odd points of the day.
3. Are They Registered?
In England, nurseries should be registered with the Office for Standards in Education, Children’s Services and Skills (Ofsted). Their registration certificate should also be displayed together with an updated insurance certificate. A nursery that receives an "outstanding” or "good” rating is one that you can trust.
Meanwhile, for nurseries in Northern Ireland, check with your local Health and Social Care Trust. In Wales, check the nursery’s registration in the Care and Social Services Inspectorate Wales website. In Scotland, go to the Care Inspectorate website.
4. What Kind of Feedback Can You Gather During Your Visit?
During your visit, there are three groups of people you should be bearing in mind when it comes to making a decision on suitability.
You don’t necessarily need to approach the children themselves (as this may be against nursery policy). You can, however, observe them and see if they are happy, relaxed, engaged by the staff, well-stimulated, or stressed.
Children are basically the customers here, so if they don’t look happy, then that might not be a good sign.
If you happen to see parents during your visit, you can talk to them and ask about their experiences to get a better feel of the place. In the event that you weren’t able to talk to other parents, you can ask the nursery for references. Alternatively, you can also go online and find toddler groups in your area that you can ask.
Check their disposition around the kids. If your primary caregivers are running around helplessly, looking tired and harassed, it could be a sign that they’re not capable of handling a baby or toddler’s energy. Look for relaxed, calm, and confident carers who are involved with children’s play, and not someone who merely polices the kids’ movement.
Also, freely converse with them, as this will give you a better idea if they are truly dedicated to taking care of your child and helping with their development.
5. How Do You Feel About Their Policies?
Nurseries should have stringent childcare policies in place. While some policies are standard across the industry, there might be a few that are nursery-specific, so feel free to ask as many questions as you can during your visit.
Some policies you should ask about include:
- Meals — Do they provide food? Do you need to bring your own food if your child is on a special diet? How many times do they change the menu?
- Personal toiletries — Do you need to bring your own soap or nappies?
- Discipline — What are the nursery’s policies on discipline? How do they manage children’s behaviour? How do they encourage good behaviour?
- Schedule — Which hours of the day are they open? Do they have flexibility with the schedule, in case of last-minute work schedule changes?
- Emergencies — Are the staff members qualified to perform first aid? How do they handle accidents/medical emergencies?
- Health — Are they using eco-friendly toys and products? Do they observe basic hygiene (e.g. hand washing, disinfecting floors and toys)? How does ventilation look like?
- Staff qualifications — It’s easy to ask about staff qualifications, but also find out what work they are qualified to do. They might be, for instance, competent to serve the nursery’s specific curriculum only. Also, is the staff encouraged to pursue continuing education or professional development? Will they work towards the next qualification level? Ask about the management team as well. Are they primarily educators or business owners? How do they measure learning?
- Cost — Do they charge per hour, per day, or per week? Is the rate within your budget?
Know What’s Best For Your Child
Checking nurseries shouldn’t stop at the point of choosing them. Continue monitoring your child’s progress and happiness throughout their stay. Remember that, in the long run, it’s better to move your child than to keep them in an unsuitable environment.
At the end of the day, trustworthy nurseries know that it’s not about pleasing the parents, staff, or management. They know that it’s about putting their primary audience at the centre of their operations: your children. If they do this, you know your children will be in good hands.
Our Nursery in Weston Super Mare is an Ofsted registered nursery and is a member of the National Day Nursery Association. If you’d like to come in to see our facilities and talk to our lovely staff give us a call today on 01934 629727 or drop us an email via our contact form.