Choosing a childcare provider and the questions you should ask!

We fully understand the stress and confusion parents face when choosing a nursery for the first time, entrusting strangers with your precious little person isn’t a task any parent takes lightly so we have compiled some tips to help alleviate the stress.

What are the options?

Private day nurseries- Most private day nurseries look after children from 3 months old to 5 years old, they tend to open from 8am to 6pm, some open even longer hours. Most are open from Monday to Friday and operate all-year-round with the exception of bank holidays. Most offer the free early education places that are available to 2, 3 and 4-year-olds.

Average nursery cost per day £52

Registered childminders

Registered Childminders are self-employed childcare professionals who work in their own homes caring for children. They care for a small number of children and will often care for a range of ages. Childminders can be flexible and offer patterns of childcare to suit the needs of families.

Most childminders will take children on outings, to parks, libraries and generally take advantage of real-life learning experiences.

Some childminders accept funding, and all registered childminders are regulated and inspected by OFSTED.

Average childminder cost £45 per day

Nannies

Nannies are employed by families to care for their children in the family home. Nanny share arrangements are available for families who want a nanny.

Average full-time cost of a live-in nanny working 50hours per week £400-£650 per week plus tax, national insurance, room, and board.

Pre-schools

Pre-schools provide play and education for children between 2 and 5, pre-schools are often open school hours 9am to 3pm. Pre-schools tend to run term-time only.

Average pre-school cost £24 per day

Nursery classes

Some schools have nursery classes (or pre-school as it may be called) as part of their school. These can be a great introduction for your child to the school and group of children they will meet in reception. Nursery classes accept children from the academic year before they would start school. Nursery classes operate during school hours, term-time only, with some offering breakfast, afterschool, and holiday clubs.

Average nursery class cost £24 per day

Care for disabled children

There are some settings dedicated to the care of disabled children, but most childcare providers offer care for children with disabilities or special educational needs.

How to choose which option is best for you.

Start by making a list of childcare options within a few miles’ radius of your home, factor in your route to and from work and consider any options along this route.

Ask around, ask friends or family with young children, join a local Facebook group for mums and put the question to them, recommendations from parents whose children have been to the nursery are helpful.

Visit the settings, get a feel for the place, ask questions.

What will you need to know?

Opening hours?

Are training days and bank holidays chargeable?

If your child is sick or cannot attend do you have to pay for the session?

Can you swap sessions within the week/term?

What are the fees and what is included in the fees?

What are the staff to child ratios?

((Here’s an idea of the ratios in a nursery:

Baby room 1 adult to 3 children

Toddler room 1 adult to 4 children

Pre-school 1 adult to 8 children))

How long have the staff been there?

What training do they have?

What is the staff turnover like?

Does the setting accept funding?

Do they take the children out into the community?

What does a typical day look like?

What OFSTED rating does the setting have?

Ask for copies of their safeguarding policies.

Will you receive feedback about your child?

Does the setting have practices in place to prepare children for school?

What are the meal options? (ask for a sample menu if meals are provided).

Other things to look out for...

Overall feel for the place.

Is there any outside space?

Do the children look stimulated?

Is the space clean and safe?

If your child still has a nap, is there somewhere for them to sleep comfortably?

What are the staff like? (I think staff can make or break a nursery).

If there are any parents around ask them what their experience has been like.

Once you have looked around the settings and factored in cost, ratios and atmosphere you will most definitely have a favorite (or 2).

Contact the settings and arrange a couple of ‘stay and play’ sessions, where you can take your child along and experience a morning or afternoon in the setting, most nurseries are happy for you to do as many as you like until you and your child feel comfortable.

Once you have chosen the setting for your little one you can get the ball rolling, there will be a mountain of paperwork to fill out and the nursery will provide you with copies of all their policies and information.

Click here to find childcare providers in your area!

Good luck!!!