Taking the step to leave your baby in the care of other people for the first time is never easy. It’s one thing having a family member look after your child for a few hours here and there, but deciding on a long-term childcare solution that also takes account of the child’s educational and developmental needs requires a little more thought.
How do you know which nursery is the right fit for you and your child? Here are a few factors to consider when choosing the right nursery for your child:
Even though they are just babies, it’s never too early to start thinking about your child’s future. Start by establishing what you consider learning priorities for your child and try to find a curriculum that meets those requirements. There are loads of factors you’ll need to consider. What are your academic priorities for your child? Do you want your child to pursue an education that is recognised internationally? Would you like your child to be bilingual? Do you want them to prioritise learning through play while they are still young?
The nursery’s Ofsted rating is something you’ll want to consider when choosing a childcare option for your little one. This rating provides an overview of the standard of the nursery, its safety record, and assesses the learning environment and its strengths and weaknesses in relation to child development. The Ofsted rating, as well as other certifications or awards that the school has, will give you some indication of how good the school is and it’s priorities.
Of course, academic success is important, but we all want a well-rounded child. Extracurricular activities such as team sports, music, and the performing arts develop other elements of a child’s personality. You’ll want to find a nursery that offers a nice range of extracurricular options. While it may still be too early to know where your kid’s strengths lie, nurseries that give students the opportunity to pursue multiple paths will help your child discover their talents and passions.
Once you’ve narrowed down your choices and have a few firm favourites, you’ll want to get a first-hand experience of the nurseries so you can get a real feel for the atmosphere and learning environment. Arrange a tour of the facilities. During the tour, you can pay attention to see what resources are available, how engaged the children are, the nature of the staff, and security arrangements. It is also good practice to think of any questions you might want to pose to the staff.
One important inquiry you should make during the tour is with reference to staff turnover. A nursery should be a place of familiarity and stability for your child, and having solid staff members is key to that. Low staff turnover will give you a good indication of stability within the institution and should reassure you that your child will have a consistent level of professional attention.
And then there is that all-important bottom line. Find out about the fees charged by the nursery and the payment structures available. It’ll also be wise to see whether advertised prices cover food, extracurricular activities, and uniforms or whether you’ll need to factor these into the budget as additional expenses. Depending on your choice of childcare option, it is also worth finding out whether you are entitled to any government funding assistance. These vouchers and discounts can often allow parents to make a considerable saving on nursery fees.
Location, Location, Location as they say. Proximity to your home and/or place will be a huge consideration when choosing a nursery for your little one. Choosing the right nursery close to home makes sense if you work from home or have a caregiver close by as it saves your child having to travel long distances every day. Finding a nursery close to your office also has its benefits especially in the event your child gets sick and you need to pick them up early.
Choosing the right nursery for your child is a big decision. After all, this is the first step in their path to school, university, and beyond. Early years sets the foundation for your child’s learning journey, so it’s a decision that is worth investing time and effort in. So don’t be afraid to explore your options and ask lots of questions.