How to choose the best childcare provider for you
21st March 2013
There are a number of reasons you might be looking for a new childcare provider; from a change in circumstances, moving house, or simply that you are expecting a brand new little person in your life. Whatever the case, you will want to choose the very best childcare provider that suits you and your child’s needs. Outlined below is a simple 3 step approach containing advice, tips and questions to ask during your search for the perfect childcare solution.
Step 1 – Do your research
You wouldn’t move your home, job or gym without doing some research first, so don’t approach finding childcare provision any differently. You should use every resource at your disposal, from the Internet to word of mouth, but a good place to start is simply finding childcare providers in your area.
Once you have identified a number of providers in your desired area you can do some basic Internet research. There are many websites offering reports on nurseries and day cares, such as Ofsted, who provide regular inspections and regulatory visits of childcare providers in the UK. The Ofsted website provides a database that you can search for the reports on your prospective childcare providers. However, you must also make your own decisions and further research is encouraged.
So, you’ve found a few outstanding reports on Ofsted and narrowed down your choice of nursery. Where do you go from here? The next step in research is to visit the nursery’s website (if they have one) where you can glean essential information such as:
- Adult to child ratio
- What accreditation do they have?
- What activities do they offer?
- Do they cater to dietary requirements?
If you are looking for a childcare provider for the first time, we encourage you to research a number of options. You might find a seemingly wonderful nursery, but having a point of comparison will help you make an objective decision.
However, the day nursery provider you’re interested in might be heavily qualified and experienced, but for a true reflection of their service you will not find more reputable and reliable opinions than those of the parents whose children go there or have been there in the past. You could visit the premises at a popular time of day; such as after work when many parents will be picking up their children, and ask a few choice questions then. Or if you already know somebody with children at the nursery you could ask them too. Remember, they probably went through the same process themselves and would be happy to help!
Step 2 – Plan a visit
Visiting the premises is a vital part of your short listing process. You can take one of two approaches when you decide to visit a nursery. An unplanned approach will give you a truly authentic impression of the nursery; however, you must be prepared that the staff may not be able to show you around fully as you have taken them by surprise. An organised visit will mean the staff have time to prepare and can really show the nursery off to its best!
In either case you should take note of the way staff and children interact with each other; are the children happy and engaged? Does the teacher/activity leader look in control and calm? Is play supervised and well structured? You should also pay attention to the
environment, a few tattered books and toys aren’t necessarily a cause for concern – they may just be well loved and played with, but the premises in general should appear clean and well maintained. Your child’s safety is paramount; the nursery should be clean and well supervised.
After your visit you may want to ask the manager a few questions, such as their policy on integrating new children into the group, their strategy for dealing with a homesick or ill child, or the educational activities on offer. This is an important decision for you and your child, so don’t be afraid to ask as many or as few questions as you need.
Step 3 – Trust your instincts
So, you’ve followed steps 1 and 2 and are torn between two seemingly fantastic childcare providers. There are many additional steps you can take to decide; however, the most important thing is to trust your instinct. A childcare provider recommended by a friend might be right for them, but only you know what will suit your child best. You need to trust your instincts and choose the best provider for your child; don’t be pressured into your decision, allow yourself time to consider all the options, and visit multiple nurseries as a point of comparison. When you make your decision you can relax and prepare your child for their next big adventure!
If you’re looking for a childcare provider in the Nottingham area, you might want to consider Tiny World Day Nurseries. Tiny World is a family run group of nurseries in the Nottingham and Mansfield areas. We have been in operation for over 30 years caring for children aged 6 weeks to 11 years old. We are founded on core values of home from home care in a happy and friendly atmosphere. To find out more about Tiny World Day Nurseries you can visit our website at www.tinyworld.biz.