Choosing a nursery / childminder is a big deal as you want to know that when you’re at work they are being well looked after. When looking and talking to a potential provider here are some key points and questions you might want to think about
What are the Opening hours?
Getting everyone ready to leave the house, for me, is a military operation and what ever provider you choose needs to be able to cater for your working hours plus the time spent travelling there and back. Consider if they have an early drop off / late pick up, do they offer “school hours” if you work part time? Can you do just the morning or afternoon? And also, what’s their minimum number of sessions per week. All this needs to be the first thing you look into as if they can’t work to your timetable its probably not the setting for you.
What’s included within the fees?
Let’s face it unless you have a family member helping you out childcare is expensive. It’s good to understand what is included in your fees, some provide wipes, nappies & creams in addition to meals and snacks, others may just provide food and wipes but ask you to supply nappies. They may have other extras that they offer such as formula milk that is the same brand as what you may use at home. Its certainly worth asking the question!
If they provide food, can you see an example menu?
Healthy living and nutritious diets are important for children’s wellbeing, in addition your child may have dietary requirements so it’s important to understand what food will be on offer. Most have rotating menus that change with the seasons. Don’t panic if you see something on the menu that you know your child would never eat if you made it. You’ll be surprised how much they eat and try when surrounded by their peers all enjoying their food.
When was their last OFSTED assessment and what was the rating?
OFSTED in the body that inspects childcare facilities, childminders and schools. All their reports are available on the OFSTED website and its worth downloading the ones for your potential settings. The reports are rated Inadequate, Requires Improvement, Good and Outstanding. Any setting ranked Good and Outstanding is a great place to start.
If my child is sick or hurt what is the process?
Children get sick and germs are inevitable in a childcare setting. Its good to know what the processes are and they should all have a policy on this that they can share. If your child gets hurt they would hopefully give you a call and let you know what has happened (I cannot even tell you how many times Ethan the hurricane has bumped himself!) and there should be an accident form waiting for you upon collection.
What training do the staff have?
Whilst its important that they are trained to look after children its equally important to keep them safe. How many staff are paediatric first aid trained? Does your child have an epi pen? If so ask how many members of staff are trained to use them! What about safeguarding, who is the safeguarding lead and who is the deputy. This is important if you have any concerns whether with a child, adult or member of staff to be able to raise this with their safeguarding team.
What feedback or observations will you receive each day?
You are leaving your little one and I won’t like its really hard! How will they tell you what they’ve been doing all day? Do they use an online portal where they will upload photos and videos? Will they give you a handwritten note each day to communicate or do they have a wipe board where they detail their day?
What activities do they offer?
Children learn through play so the more they can experience the better. Is there sand and water play? Do they have open access to a garden? Physical play to climb on? Any special sessions like intergenerational play or dancing/sports sessions?
You will really get a feel for a setting on a visit so once you have browsed a few websites and looked at the OFSTED report give them a call to arrange your visit and go armed with your questions.