As a new parent you’ll be investing your time and effort into viewing nurseries to choose which environment best suits your little one. Showing prospective parents around our setting is something we love to do, showing off each of our nurseries’ unique characteristics. Many of our team are understanding parents themselves and are well very experienced making new families feel comfortable, and it’s important that you get the most of your visit. Here are a few tips for getting as much out of your nursery tour as possible, whichever nursery you choose to view.
Take your child with you, having your little person there can make for easier flowing conversation, and often breaks the ice – plus you get to see first hand how everyone interacts with your child.
Be friendly and open. This might be the start of a relationship between you and your child carer, much is a mutually supportive relationship, set the tone by being open and honest about your worries and expectations.
Ask open-ended questions to give the nursery plenty of chance to share their ethos…
“How long have you worked here?” will often get you a story of their journey in the company, and their childcare experience, including little nuggets of information about staff turnover and general wellbeing – all important for a happy nursery environment.
“How often do children play outside” will tell you if the nursery room routine is regimented, and if each room has their own play space, or are having to share. Can the child request to play outdoors? Which for children who thrive in an outdoor environment is particularly important.
“Where are meals prepared?” Will get you into the kitchen, which is often not included on a tour, you’ll find out if there’s a designated cook, or if the nursery staff take it in turns to prepare meals.
Understand the “true” cost of the place. Some nurseries charges extra fees for food, or nappies, or extra sessions such as French or Drama classes. Some nurseries charge for early starts, late finishes. Some offer term-time places, some charge holding fees. You can usually expect to pay for bank holidays so consider this if you are flexible with the days you are choosing. Ask them to email you with the full cost of what you are looking for, then you can follow up with any questions or tweaks to make the place work for you, ask for links to Tax Free Childcare and Childcare Choices so that you can see what help you can get towards the place.
How flexible are you with sessions? You’ll be signing a contract and paying a lot of money for this service, so it’s important to understand the nurseries terms and conditions. Each one differs but flexibility becomes particularly important if you are sharing your childcare needs between a Nursery and a grandparent or friend as it might be likely that sometimes you’ll need to switch days, or add in an extra session. Check if the nursery will allow you to swap your days if needed, or Grandma’s appointments can quickly end up costing you extra charges, or even a days’ annual leave.
Much like buying a house, choosing a nursery is often lead by an initial feeling when you walk around, if you feel content and comfortable in the Nursery – it’s likely your child will too – so take your time, and listen to your gut feeling.