Starting nursery is a big deal for you and your little ones. There are new friends to make, new ideas to share and new things to learn! When you find the right nursery, you will be amazed to see your child grow more social, independent and responsible.
However the task of finding a nursery can be overwhelming at times since there are so many things to consider.
The best advice is to ask a lot of questions! After all, this is a place you are trusting to keep your child safe and secure while they are not in your care.
Here are some questions to start with:
1 Safety and Security of your child is the #1 priority since your child will be spending much of their day here.
a. How many staff members are paediatric First Aid and CPR trained? How often are these certificates renewed?
b. Do children and staff practice emergency evacuation? How often?
c. What are safeguarding policies for children: allergies, health policies, cleanliness of nursery, cleaning materials used, risk assessments, etc?
d. What is the ratio of staff to children in the classroom?
e. Is there an open door policy for parents?
f. Are CCTV cameras installed in each classroom?
g. Is there a food program? Does it include fresh, nutritious, healthy meals? What are the policies on allergies?
h. What is the turnover rate of staff? Do staff receive benefits and background checks?
i. Throughout the tour, look out for noticeable hazards - gates open, children unattended, scissors left out, etc.
2 Be sure you are confident in the curriculum used in nursery. A strong program will provide a solid foundation for your child when they go to big school. Keep in mind that you as parents should be communicated to on a regular basis so you can extend the learning themes done at nursery to your child at home.
a. Which curriculum is used?
b. What is the daily schedule for your child’s class?
c. What evidence of learning is shared with parents? How often?
d. Are teachers confident in applying curriculum to learning?
e. Are staff members trained in education? Are they required to complete additional annual training hours?
f. Are extra activities included to extend the learning beyond the classroom? Ie. music, languages, ICT, fitness, outdoor play, indoor play, art, cooking, etc.
g. How is lesson planning done? Can you see a lesson plan?
h. Is there an accredited program for FS1 and FS2?
3 Lastly, when you are touring the nursery look around and observe the environment.
a. Are children happy and engaged?
b. Does the nursery have an open door policy?
c. How are staff interacting with children? Are they smiling, child focused and approachable?
d. Are there various areas for children to explore and learn through play? Libraries, water play areas, art zones, tech stations, green outdoor space, etc.
Once you choose your child’s nursery, start to prepare for your child’s first day. It will take time for your child (and you) to adjust to a new routine. As parents, you play a pivotal role in guiding children through their first days at nursery so here are some tips for a successful back to nursery experience:
• Be positive Children pick up on emotions easily. If you are positive, excited and relaxed your child will be too! Remind your children that they have new friends waiting for them at school and create playgroups after school with their friends so they have even more to look forward to the next day.
• Create a Routine Starting a routine for kids before school starts will help ease them into classroom routines. All parents quickly learn that bedtime routines are among the most important since children need at least 10 to 13 hours of sleep each night, so be sure they get enough rest before their big first day.
• Build Confidence Talk about your child’s teacher at home, visit their class before school starts so they are familiar with their surroundings and be sure to arrive on time the first day so your little one doesn’t miss out on the morning class routine.
• Relax Remember teachers are experts at infusing fun into each activity and making children feel comfortable. When taking your child to their classroom, reassure them that you will pick them up very soon and are excited to hear about all of the fun activities they did that day. Don’t worry if they are uneasy – the
teacher will have plenty of activities up her sleeve to ease them into the day!
Check out www.theblossomnursery.com/admissions for a more detailed list of suggested questions to ask prospective nurseries. It covers everything from safety to health, curriculum and play!