What to look for when choosing a suitable nursery for your child
As the owner of a Nursery and a mother of two young girls who attended a nursery, I have experienced myself how difficult it can be to choose the right nursery, especially if it is the first time you have had to do so. It can feel bewildering and choosing a nursery in London can be a very daunting prospect, with so many of them, and with so many different types of childcare on offer. This is often the first time you have left your child for any length of time and it is vital to find somewhere that you feel secure about. My main advice when choosing any form of childcare is, don’t rush it. There are some excellent nurseries out there, but you need to do your research and make sure the nursery is right for you and your family.
A day nursery (as opposed to a nursery school) is normally a privately-run nursery for children aged three months to five years. A nursery school instead tends to operate during term time and only takes children from 3-5 years and may be run by the local authority. A day nursery, such as ourselves, is run for childcare purposes, and follows the Government’s Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS) framework which sets the standards for learning, development, and care for children from birth up to 5 years of age.
Normal nursery hours can range from 7am – 7pm, except for public holidays, so you need to check whether these hours fit in with your work of lifestyle. Our own hours are 7.30am – 6.30pm.
Nurseries must adhere to strict ratios of staff to children, as well as guidelines and the curriculum set down by the Government and can range in size from 10 to 100+ places. This may be a really important factor for you. Large nurseries are not always a bad thing as they tend to have better facilities and may have more staff – you just need to check how the rooms and ages of the children within the nursery are broken down (as you don’t want your child in a room with 30 others).
Our own Nursery here at Monkey Puzzle has 65 spaces across all the rooms, so to ensure all children get as much individual attention as possible.
As a first step ask your friends, family and neighbours for recommendations of local nurseries. Check out these nurseries online by reading their Ofsted reports or reviews on sites such as Day Nurseries, which will give you an idea of how the nursery is thought of by parents. This is particularly helpful if you are new to the area or do not know many other families with young children. Also have a look at the nurseries website or Facebook page – what sort of activities do they do, do they seem to go outside a lot?
Once you have selected a few nurseries that you like the look of, call them and ask to book visits. Any good Nursery should be more than willing to show you around, as we are. To book a viewing please contact the nursery and we will be happy to arrange a time that suits on 0208 761 1444.
By coming to visit a nursery you will see what the layout of the rooms and the facilities looks like, how happy they children seem and how engaged do the staff look. You should feel free to ask as many questions as you like.
Ten key questions and things to check
- Do they have any spaces for the days you are looking at? 2. How many children do they have now and what is the maximum they can take? 3. Do they provide all meals, if so what is it and where is it cooked, or do you have to provide food? 4. If you have a baby, then you need to specifically check the following: • Do you need to bring your own nappies and formula? • Where do the babies sleep during the day (ideally you would like to have the cots away from the playing area, but space is at a premium in nurseries so that is rare)? • How much fresh air do the babies get during the day and how are the babies transported outside of the nursery (ask to see the prams and buggies)? • How much time if any do the babies spend in the company of the older children (depending how you view this, it could be an advantage or a disadvantage) 5. Can you see a copy of their latest OFSTED report (or alternatively you can view these all on line) 6. What sort of settling in period is there? 7. If you need to leave the nursery, what is the notice period? 8. What do they do about security and people entering the building? 9. Is there outside space? 10. Do they accept childcare vouchers (if you get these from your employer) and do they offer subsidised places for three-year olds?
I’m am sure that a bit like buying a home, you will know straight away if a nursery feels right for you, but if you are unsure just ask to visit again at a different time of day.
Once you are sure that the nursery is the right one for your child complete the registration process as quickly as you can.
With nurseries, timing is crucial. The best nurseries will get booked up as much as a year in advance so make sure that you don’t leave it until the last minute. We are a new Nursery, so although our places are filling up quickly, particularly in the Baby room, we do still have some places available.
Why I set up Monkey Puzzle West Norwood
After speaking to many primary school teachers and Head Teachers of local private schools, I discovered that many were observing more and more children with under developed gross motor skills starting at their schools. Trying to teach core control and good posture to children at this stage is almost too late, as they are having to spend a lot of time correcting the habits they have already developed or attempting to re teach these same skills, or in some cases, referring them to therapists. Instead, I realised that establishing the foundation in early years was necessary.
Therefore, I have set up the Nursery with the intention of placing a large emphasis on establishing good gross motor skills through purposeful play activities, thus encouraging body awareness and providing the opportunity for children to develop physical literacy alongside their literacy and numeracy skills, and to prepare them for the move to school.
About Monkey Puzzle West Norwood
At Monkey Puzzle we care for children in our light and spacious day nursery, offering childcare of the highest quality. Your child will benefit from a secure environment, catering for children between the ages of three months to five years.
We offer your children the chance to learn and play in calming surroundings which have been specifically designed to create a loving, homely and safe environment for your child.
We have dedicated nursery spaces for the different age ranges, including mobile and non-mobile babies. Each room reflects the seven areas of learning as prescribed in the Early Years Foundation Stage and is designed to be accessible to every child.
· Award winning nursery group with over 30 years’ experience
· Closed for Bank Holidays, one week at Christmas & 3 staff training days
· Full day sessions from 7.30 am to 6.30 pm
· Morning and afternoon sessions available
· All main meals and snacks prepared on site
· Branded Nappies (under 2’s only), wipes and creams all included in the price
· Modern security systems, including CCTV cameras
· Amazing outside play area with impact absorbing safety surfacing
Our fees are inclusive of freshly prepared breakfast, lunch, tea, snacks and drinks. Daily menus are carefully selected by a professional nutritionist to meet energy requirements of growing children.
Come and visit our Nursery
If you would like to come and see our Nursery and meet our staff please come and visit us.