Finding A Nursery in Romford
How To Find A Nursery
Day nurseries are child centres for children from birth to five years old. Finding the right pre school nursery is a big decision and it’s important to get it right.
All nurseries should be Ofsted inspected and it’s worth visiting a few - don’t assume your nearest nursery will be the right one.
When starting your search, Google is a helpful tool. When you enter ‘pre school nursery’ into the search engine it should bring up the nurseries in your area, but typing terms like: ‘find nursery in my area’, ‘how to find a nursery’, and ‘nursery near me’ will definitely bring up nurseries near you.
Once you have your list, do your research and make sure you cover all the basic elements like cost, location (such as proximity to school and your house), opening hours, flexibility.
You’ll be able to find out most of this online. Once you’ve done this, you’ll very quickly end up with a shortlist of those you want to visit.
Parents’ recommendation counts for so much when trying to find a nursery, so it’s worth talking to parents in the area as well as one or two parents at the nursery when you visit.
If your child has particular needs similar to a friend’s child, ask them how their nursery caters for that child’s needs.
Another good sign is your first impressions; Was the atmosphere nice? Were the staff friendly and welcoming? Do the children look happy and engaged? How clean was the place?
One of the biggest benefits of a nursery over other forms of child care is the flexibility it gives you, so this is something you should look out for.
Are you able to change your child’s attendance pattern if your circumstances or work shifts change at short notice?
Also do they have good opening hours, some only run during term times, while others are open for 12 hour a day, so make sure the hours fit in with you own schedule.
A nursery that has an open doors policy, allowing you to pop in unannounced is probably one you can trust. Some may even let you join in with activities, you may find in the early days you want to do this to help your child transition, while putting your own mind at ease that you child is safe hands. Even if you are unable to do this because of your commitments, you may find knowing a nursery has this policy reassuring.
The lower the ratio of staff to children the better. This is especially crucial when a child is really young as they need the attention, and it is expected that it would increase as they get older.
There are regulations in place to make sure there are the right numbers of carers in a day nursery. The child to staff ratio should be:
- One adult to three children aged two and younger
- One adult to four children aged between two and three
- One adult to eight children aged between three and five
Have a read of the nursery’s policies - what is their stance on health and safety, security, emergencies, insurance and cleanliness? This will indicate how serious the nursery is about looking after your child.
A clean nursery is certainly a good sign. Do the staff know what process to follow when helping you child in the toilet and do you get a sense that they place high value on personal hygiene? You'll be able to work this out when quizzing them. All areas including the kitchen, hallway, doors and floors should be immaculate and rubbish bins should be emptied regularly.
The early years foundation stage (EYFS) sets the standard of learning for early years education and all nurseries have to follow it. It provides a structure that guides your child’s learning and development until they are five years old. All nursery staff should be trained in this.
There will be a number of learning goals that your child will achieve covering areas such as language and communication, literacy, numeracy, physical development and much more. The activities you may find your child is involved with could include the following:
- reading and story time
- painting and drawing
- sticking and gluing
- play dough
- construction blocks
- jigsaws and puzzles
- computer activities
Most nurseries will keep you informed about what your child is learning, and it’s good to find a nursery that encourages a lot of activity that will stimulate your child, and ones they will enjoy. If watching TV and DVDs are part of the programme, it should be specific to learning and age-appropriate rather than just being sat in front of the TV.
The pre school nursery you choose should have an outdoor space for the children to play outside every day.
If the nursery is in the city and therefore doesn’t have enough space for a playground, there should be somewhere that the children are taken to regularly, such as a nearby playground or park, or they should be taken on walks to the local shops, library or around the block.
The right nursery will have a plethora of toys, and toys which are age-appropriate that will aide your child’s development and stimulate their mind and creativity.
Your child’s nutrition is important - find out when the nursery serves meals, what is served and how frequently the children are given food and snacks?
Do they serve good nutritious food? Do they accommodate children with allergies and intolerances? And are all members of staff appropriately equipped to deal manage this?
A nap in the day is important for children especially when really young so it is important to find out how the nursery manages nap times and understand their views on this - do they line up with yours?
Also what are nursery staff’s views on discipline, encouraging positive behaviour and your child’s general health?Are they interested to find out more about your approach to these areas? Does their approach line up with yours?
As well as being appropriately trained (such as the right qualifications including DBS - formerly CRB - and first aid), do the staff look happy? You don’t want someone with low morale to be looking after your child, so it’s worth knowing what the staff benefits are - are they well remunerated for the time they give?
A high staff turnover should raise alarm bells. And are the staff continually developed and stimulated through regular training days and staff away days?
Finally, will a key person who will stay in close communication with you about your child be allocated to your family?
Costs of nurseries vary but you’ll be able to get a feel of whether they are offering value for money.
It’s worth comparing notes with other parents, but do bear in mind you may find some nurseries cost more based on what they offer, though a high price tag is not necessarily an indicator of a good nursery!
Depending on your child’s age and your financial situation your child may be entitled to 15 free hours a week of early education which can make a big difference!
- Communicate to your child’s main carer what their routine is like. Let them know what your child likes and doesn’t like.
- Make sure it’s clear between you and your partner who does the pick ups and drops offs - it sounds obvious but it will take time to get used to the routine especially if you have been at home with the child up until now. Perhaps do a test run before hand, and bear in mind there may be an extra charge if you are late in picking up your child.
- What will you do if your child becomes ill? Who will look after them? Who has the easiest access to the nursery if they need to be picked up early? Can you take time off at short notice?
- Remember that your child is a tough cookie and the chances are they will adapt to life in nursery just fine. When you’ve done all the research and quizzing, and you settle on the right nursery, relax and trust that your child is in good hands!