How to Choose a Nursery

Choosing the right Nursery for your child can be incredibly overwhelming and quite honestly, a daunting thought when you’ve been the primary carer for your child all this time.  Taking a huge leap of faith and trusting someone else to care for your child can be scary. Every child is different, with different needs so it’s important to consider a few key factors throughout the process to make sure you’re making the right decision for both your child and family. We have put together a step-by-step guide with all things to consider when choosing a Nursery.

What to Look for When Choosing a Nursery Class

If you’re starting to think about choosing a Nursery for your child or grandchild, you may have a thousand and one questions to ask. From where do you find Nurseries in your area, to how will I know if I’m choosing the right Nursery and what are the costs involved? That’s before you’ve even thought about their first day. Don’t worry, finding the perfect option for your little one is a process and to make it’ll a little easier we’ve put together a list of what to look for when choosing a Nursery with helpful tips on how and when you should apply.

Identify Your Child’s Needs

Choosing childcare for your child is a big decision that impacts the whole family. With the right Nursery provider, they’ll help your child to learn, play, make new friends, and generally care for their day-to-day needs. There is no best time to apply for Nursery as this comes down to your individual circumstances. Some Nurseries will accept children from birth while some may only accept children from the age of 3+ where they may be designed to be educational and prepare the child for Reception. Every child and family are different, which means finding the most suitable Nursery type will depend entirely on your family circumstances and your child’s needs.

There are a few questions you may begin with to identify the right childcare for your child and family.  By answering these questions, it should make it easier to identify out of the various childcare options, which Nursery is best for your child.

  • How often will I require childcare each week?
  • What sort of care and learning do I want for my child?
  • Is there a type of environment that will best suit my child?
  • Are there any facilities or activities that I definitely do or do not want?
  • What age do I want to put my child into Nursery?
  • How far is the Nursery from my home or place of work?
  • Does the Nursery feed into a Reception class?
  • Does the Nursery offer wraparound care? If you are a working parent, you may want to consider how the Nursery fits into your working life and whether your child can be picked up earlier or later in the day.
  • Is there a uniform that I have to buy for my child?

Types of Childcare

Whether you are looking for group-based childcare, or want one-to-one care for your child, there is a childcare choice for everyone. The following include the most common childcare options available to parents or grandparents with young children.

Registered Childminders

Registered childminders are self-employed childcare professionals who will look after other people’s children in their home-setting. They are often very flexible and offer a variety of childcare support for different families.

Day Nurseries

Day Nurseries are a childcare centre that can look after children from the ages of 0 months to 5 years and are usually open from the hours of 8am-6pm. Some nurseries offer flexibility on the sessions your child can attend meaning you could choose to put your child into Nursery for a few mornings a week or alternatively lunchtime sessions, depending on that individual school.

Pre-Schools

Pre-schools is one of the many childcare options available to parents of young children. It’s usually the most common option for children a year away from starting full-time (big school). Pre-Schools are designed to begin your child’s education through play from the ages of 3-5 years old. It involves being taught by a qualified teacher in a dedicated Pre-School often attached to a Primary School to prepare them for the next step up.

Nursery Classes

Another common childcare option available to parents is Nursery Classes. Nursery Classes accept children throughout the academic year, operate during school hours and educate your child through play-led learning. These are a great introduction for your child to the school they’ll be attending and the group of children they’ll be spending time with.

Wraparound Childcare in a School Nursery

Wraparound childcare is childcare that schools provide outside of normal school hours. This is to help working families as this form of childcare will often include breakfast clubs and afterschool care. Some options for this can start as early as 8am and finish around 6pm.

Research Different Nurseries

Once you have decided on the type of childcare you’re interested in, it’s a good idea to research various Nurseries within your area that fit your preferred option. Each Nursery will offer different benefits for your child and while a good Nursery will cater for a range of children through a variety of activities, it’s important to research the options available to identify which one will work best for your child. No one knows your child as well as you do! The ‘best’ Nurseries usually fill up relatively quickly, so allow plenty of time to research to enable you to find the right fit for your family life. When researching Nurseries, we recommend checking the following:

  • The results from the recent Ofsted reports
  • What age do they take children from?
  • Check reviews and references from other parents
  • What are the costs involved?
  • The location

Visit the Nursery Schools You’ve Shortlisted

It’s time to consider booking open days or planning a visit to go and see the Nurseries you have shortlisted. Where possible, try to visit as many Nursery settings as possible as what works for a friend or relative may not work for your child or family.

Visits to your preferred Nursery will allow you to get a real feel for what the school is like, as well as the staff, facilities and what the classes are like.

Due to unprecedented times, visits aren’t quite as easy as they once were, therefore it’s best to check with the Nursery you are interested in on their visiting procedures. The pandemic may mean that Nurseries are following different processes to accommodate visitors which may mean you have to book a time further in advance. It can take numerous sessions before you and your child feel confident, so feel free to re-visit the Nurseries you’re interested in several times. It may also be worth taking other family members i.e., grandparents, if they’re likely to be involved in the day-to-day pick-ups and drop offs.

Important Things to Consider After You’ve Visited a Nursery

Before you make any decision about the nurseries you have visited, it’s important to take the time to think about your experience of the nursery, there is no rush to make a decision. There are a few important questions every parent should consider after they have visited the nurseries to guide you through this big decision. This checklist could be particularly helpful if you are considering more than one option as it may help to guide you towards your final decision.

A few of these questions included within the Nursery Checklist include:

  1. Was there a good range of activities and resources available?
  2. How interacting and caring were the staff with the children?
  3. Can you see your child settling into the Nursery?
  4. Will I receive daily progress reports on how my child is doing and what they get up to?
  5. What was their staff retention like? Is there a mixture of older and younger staff?

Don’t be afraid to ask as many questions as you need to, after all you want to make sure you are making the right decision for your child.

You’ve Chosen a Nursery, What’s Next?

When you finally decide on the ‘perfect’ Nursery for your child, you’ll want to secure your child’s place. The application process can vary, so it’s best to check with your chosen Nursery to find out how best to apply for a place. They will then give you details of how to apply online, or any documentation to be completed. If you are then offered a place, you may be required to pay a deposit to secure your place.

Don’t forget as well as the Universal Entitlement, many working families can receive an additional 15 hours a week, free in early education for their 3 and 4 year old children, giving them 30 hours of funded childcare in total. To find out whether you meet the eligibility criteria, visit the HRMC’s Childcare Service.

About Wycliffe

Based in a beautiful countryside campus in Gloucestershire, Wycliffe Nursery Class is where the foundation of learning begins as we give children a head start on their educational journey. The Nursery Class sessions are based around building academic foundations through play-led learning with exceptional facilities and support to allow your child to thrive. Places are available from when your child turns 3. To learn more information about Wycliffe Nursery Class or for information on how to apply, contact us today.