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What to ask when visiting a nursery/childminder

Discussion in 'Parenting' started by starcommand, Mar 7, 2011.

  1. The time has come to start thinking about looking into childcare. Its not something I've ever done before. What questions should I be asking and what should I be looking for?
  2. Hi, if you contact your local Children's information Centre they may well have a list of questions you might like to ask - ours certainly has. Otherwise you might like to think about:
    For Nurseries:
    How does your key person system work (if they don't have one or only pay lip service to it then go elsewhere)
    How often do the children go outside - should be every day.
    Does everyone take off their shoes in the baby room (should do for cleanliness as your little one will be crawling around).
    Where do you change nappies - check it's safe. Who changes nappies - should be the child's key person whenever possible.

    For Childminders
    How much television/what programmes will my child be exposed to?
    Do you have any pets?
    Will you follow my routines?
    Can I see your last Ofsted Report?

    Make sure you visit the nursery, at least, unannounced to see what it's really like. Ask all childcare about settling in procedures. Your should leave your child for gradually longer and longer periods and gradually pass care over to the key person or childminder.
    I will be doing this with my daughter in law very soon, best of luck
  3. I think your 'gut feeling' about childcare is equally, if not more important than questions. Some places / people just give off good vibes!
  4. I agree with Jen1983. I knew which nursery was right for us - I hated the ones that felt like schools.
    btw my daughter's nursery is great and they only pay lip service to key workers (its small so all know all of the kids really well).
  5. I agree with Jen about the 'gut feeling' but I also wanted to be armed with questions, so here are afew that I asked (or tried to remember to ask!)

    Do you administer calpol?
    What are your procedures if child starts to become unwell through out the day (i.e. some have a temperature limit)?
    What do you do if a child bites/kicks etc
    Where do they sleep?
    Do you have a list of 'typical meals' that you serve?
    How do they report back to you about each day - food/nappies/sleep - we get a daily sheet about how much she's eaten / what she's had / when she slept and what she's been doing, which I really like as when you pick them up it can be quite hectic, so you can refer back to it later.
    Do they take any trips out?
    Do they extra activities, e.g. ours does baby talk and when they're older they do French from 3 ish.

    Also I would highly recommend going to many as possible to compare and personally, nothing speaks more volume than a recommendation from another like minded Mum! So ask friends / colleagues ladies at baby groups etc to see what their experiences and thoughts are.

    Hope this helps,

  6. In my complete ignorance what is 'lip service' please? A key person is someone allocated to your child, yeah?
  7. A key person is the member of staff who forms a close bond with your child, it ensures that they are cared for as well as possible when away from home. This person does most of the personal care things like nappy changing, putting down to sleep, comforting when upset etc. Some nurseries do a 'team key person' where two people share the role so that there is always someone there who the child feels secure with. I agree with the earlier post that where a nursery is very small this is not just as important. In bigger nurseries, without a key person policy it's not unusual to have nappies changed by whoever is passing at the time, ditto feeding, putting down to sleep etc.
    Lip Service means you say you do it 'cos you know you have to (key person is an Ofsted requirement) but you don't really bother in practice.
  8. katycustard

    katycustard Occasional commenter

    I asked, 'you have 3 babies (that's the staffing ratio) and all three are crying, what do you do?'
    One answer was, ' you get to know which babies cry a lot, therefore you can leave those, babies that rarely cry can cope with being left occasionally so you deal with the one that's crying the right amount'. (I kid you not!)
    Different nursery, 'I have two knees and two arms, and I can cuddle all three while I ask for help from another colleague'.

    You can guess where my baby went! I went home from the first nursery so upset, I can remember saying to my OH that we didn't even know if our baby would cry too much or the right amount!
  9. morning star

    morning star New commenter

    Lots of people advocate visiting nurseries unannounced but any nursery that I've been involved with as a parent or professionally would refuse to admit someone who turned up on the doorstep (a) because they are dealing with the children and (b) because they don't admit people unless they have a contact number that they have called to check previously.
  10. I think the way to do it is to ring and ask if its o.k. to just pop in on a visit so that they have your details and are partially expecting you. If the nursery says no then I would be suspicious unless they gave a good reason e.g. 'please avoid mealtimes' or something similar.
  11. What a brilliant question... I feel quite annoyed with myself for not thinking of it... but will sure to pass it on to my friends when they have to start looking at nurseries for their LOs :)
  12. We're off to visit a nursery this evening; am really nervous and hope that it's as good as it appears to be... this topic has been really useful as I wouldn't have thought of half of these questions.
    Has anyone else been for visits recently? Were there any other parents nearby (picking up their childrn) and were you brave enough to ask them their opinions before meeting the nursery staff?
    Are there any other questions I should be asking! Crikey, I feel completely unprepared.
    Pogo x
  13. katycustard

    katycustard Occasional commenter

    It is hard chosing a nursery or childminder and yes you will often know if something feels right. However, as parents we aren't looking for the same things that Ofsted do. Nurseries can be shut down for all sorts of reasons, although if they are closed with no notice it usually is a safeguarding issue - not that children are being abused but procedures aren't secure enough.
    I wouldn't worry about whether children go out on visits or walks as long as there is a secure outside area at the nursery. Years ago I was at the park and there were a group of trainee nursery nurses from Princess Christian (very upmarket) and the toddlers were left strapped in the pushchairs while the staff all chatted to each other. No doubt the parents were told their children had been on a lovely visit to the park!
    You can't even go by if your little one is happy to be left, babies and toddlers often cry at moments of separation but can then be happy all day. All you can do is the best you can do and that will be okay. Looking at more than one nursery or childminder will help you get a feel for what you want, even if you end up going back to the first place.
  14. katycustard

    katycustard Occasional commenter

    Sounds like a good place to go Pogo and great news about the fees, I think that's pretty unusual too.

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