Our team shares top tips for parents when choosing a nursery and advice on how to help children settle in.
If you’re looking to choose a nursery for your little one, our early years team has compiled eight top tips to help you find the right fit for you and your child, along with advice on how to help them settle in.
Top tips when looking for a nursery:
- Search on nursery listing sites – While Google Maps can help you find the location of your nearest nursery, dedicated listing sites show all your nearby options and often give a more detailed overview of their features. Sites like daynurseries.co.uk provide a rundown of a nursery’s facilities, opening times, photos, a score rating and reviews from other parents whose children currently attend.
- Check that the nursery is Ofsted registered – All day nurseries should be registered with Ofsted. Check your favourites to ensure they are listed and read their latest report to find out more information. Bear in mind that newly opened nurseries may not have had an inspection yet.
- Find out how they serve food – Does the nursery offer milk, meals and snacks, or do you need to make a packed lunch for your child? Is food freshly prepared each day? Are menus varied and nutritional? Find out what food is offered and ask the staff how they manage dietary requirements and allergies.
- Read their policies – A good day nursery will have clearly established policies for everything related to your child’s care. What is the nursery policy on opening and closing times, illness or emergency? It is reassuring to know that the nursery takes the care of your child seriously and has guidelines in place to reflect this.
- Ask about the settling in period – How long does the nursery give children to settle in? What do they do to reassure them and how does this process work? You want to ensure the staff are responsive to your child’s needs.
- Find out what is included – Does your nursery provide everything your child needs for the whole day? If you have a younger child, check if you need to supply your own nappies, milk and wipes. Nurseries that include these in the price can be more convenient, especially if you plan to drop your child off on your commute.
- Visit the nursery* – When you’ve narrowed down your choice to a few favourites, a visit will tell you more than a webpage ever could. If you can visit the nursery during opening hours, see how the children act. Do they look happy? Are they engaged in a variety of different activities? Are the staff involved in the activities? What is the staff:child ratio like?
Out of hours, this is your chance to look round the space and facilities, and ask the staff any questions you couldn’t find out online.
If you can, take your child along for the visit. Their reaction to the nursery (or opinion if they are a little bit older) will be invaluable to your decision-making. Do they seem comfortable and interested in their surroundings?
Tips for helping your child with the nursery change:
While some children may adapt to a new nursery easily, others may take longer to warm up to their new surroundings. Take things gently, try our tips below and let your child decide when they are ready.
- Start with short sessions – Take your child to nursery for an hour or two at first, building up to a morning or afternoon session at a time. Going straight into a full-time routine can be overwhelming, so if you can take a few days off when they first start to help settle them in gradually to their new nursery, the transition will be smoother.
- Meet with your child’s keyworker* – Spending some time with your child and their new keyworker will give your child an opportunity to get to know them while you are still around. You can let your keyworker know about your little one’s favourites, likes, dislikes, and previous nursery routine, so they know what to expect and where to take extra care and attention.
- Create ways for your child to remember their world at home or previous nursery – Familiar objects and images help us feel more relaxed. If they are moving nursery consider making a memory book for them. Assemble photos, drawings and crafts they made into a folder or scrapbook for them to look back on.
- Ease your child’s worries – Talk to your child about nursery and the activities they might get up to, helping them visualise it as a safe, happy place. If your child is old enough, they may voice worries of their own. Take the time to sit down with your child and listen to any fears they might have, reassuring where you can. Young children often take their emotional cues from the adults around them, so knowing that mum or dad is calm and confident about the move is a big help.
For a chat about the nurseries in your local area and help with any questions you have, our team would be more than happy to help. Give us a call on 0800 085 4074.
*Visiting and key worker sessions may work a little differently at the moment while COVID-19 restrictions in place. Contact the nursery to ask about the options available if you are unable to visit in person.