To find a day nursery or creche in your area select a region from the list on the left or read more about the selection process below.
Most parents feel the tugging at their heartstrings as they drop their child off for the first time with a childcare professional. After all, they know they’re leaving their most precious little bundle with someone pretty unfamiliar. So, deciding who should look after your child is completely crucial. Let’s look at some of your options….
Childcare - What Options Are There?
We’re taking a Look here at one of the childcare options -
The Nursery - In More Detail:
In a nutshell, nurseries provide childcare for children from as young as 3 months old until they are ready to start school. They provide a safe, secure environment, where very young children can make friends, play and learn new skills. Assuming that you have already reached the decision to send your child to a nursery, how do you choose one?
Do Your Research Early On:
For a list of nurseries in your area, call the Children's Information Service on 0845 602 1125. Once you have this list, you can start your research. Bear in mind that many reputable nurseries are booked up months in advance, so start looking as soon as you can.
Ask other parents questions about the different nurseries that you are interested in - they may have information that will help you make an informed decision. And when you visit, chat to some of the parents at the nursery to find out more from them. Essentially, a good nursery will be known for its friendly, cheery atmosphere and caring, safe environment. It almost goes without saying: visit as many nurseries as you can.
Location, Location, Location:
Make sure the nursery is convenient to your home or work. After all, should there be an emergency you need to be able to get there quickly. Visit the nursery by the normal means of transport that you would use each day, to see how long it will take you.
First impressions are crucial, and there is nothing stronger to sway your decision than your initial gut reaction. Listen to those vibes. You know your child best, and your instinct will tell you if a nursery is in tune.
You will immediately know if the premises are suitable. They should be clean, well kept and with good natural light. Look at the play areas – are there children’s paintings on the walls? And check the toilets and the sleeping areas. Do they meet your expectations? See if there’s an outdoor play area as children should play outside every day. In the absence of such, ask if the children are taken out regularly to local play areas.
Health And Safety:
Security is a priority, emergency procedures must be in place if need be and access to and from the building should be both childproof and stranger-proof. In addition to safety, there should be high levels of cleanliness and hygiene.
Childcare staff should be both friendly and approachable. They should carry, or at least be working towards, an appropriate childcare qualification. The staff should show a clear interest in the children and enjoy spending time with them. It helps if they hold similar views to your own on subjects such as discipline. Check that there are adequate numbers of staff to children. The ratio should be:
Also, find out how high the staff turnover is. A low turnover of staff is more likely to provide your child with a more stable environment.
A good nursery will be flexible around your working patterns. This will allow you to pick up and drop your child off at times that suit you, obviously within their operating hours.
Filling The Children’s Days:
Most nurseries follow a structured plan, allowing time for key activities such as play, physical activity, and group sessions. Time for meals, sleep, stories and individual tasks should also be accounted for. Children learn through play, so this should be at the heart of all activities.
Meals And Snacks:
A very topical issue, this one. Ask about mealtimes to discover whether the food is varied and nutritious. If your child has any food intolerance, find out if they can accommodate such a need. Snacks should be provided during the day, and drinks should be readily available.
When Was The Nursery Registered And Inspected?
Normally, the registration certificate is placed in a prominent position. Ofsted childcare inspectors regularly visit all registered nurseries. You can read their individual inspection reports at www.ofsted.gov.uk.
Finally, look at the bottom line - can you afford the nursery of your choice? Nursery costs can be quite high, but if you are working you may be able to get some financial help towards meeting these costs. Working Tax Credit includes an element to help with the costs of childcare. To find out more, call the tax credits helpline on 0845 300 3900.