Choosing childcare- part 2

In a previous post, I discussed some of the available option for those looking for childcare.  In this post I plan on exploring a little more about choosing a specific provider.  It'll most likely focus on choosing a Nursery as this is the aspect of the industry I'm most familiar with. 

Regardless of which childcare option you choose, there are a few general things for you to consider.

Research is your friend.
Research the different options and consider which works best for you- which option offers the best flexibility with the hours you/your partner will be working?  As a general rule of thumb, Nurseries open 8-6 Monday to Friday, but some will offer earlier starts and later finishes.  Childminders will vary massively depending upon their own needs and choices.
For Nurseries and Childminders in England, looks at the Ofsted website for inspection reports.  Both types of provider are regularly inspected and the inspection reports published online. (  Ofsted reports aren't the be all and end all though, nothing beats...

Visiting the provider
Always make sure you visit any potential childcare providers- I have known a parent send their child to a Nursery after only having dealt with them via telephone!  Nothing beats going for a look around, it gives you an idea of the environment your child will be in, an idea of what play activities are offered, what the staff are like and whether the environment will be suitable for your child.  If your child is active, they won't enjoy being in a small environment without space to explore.  I shudder at the thought of sending a child of mine to a Nursery neither of us have visited! 
Don't be afraid to make multiple visits either, choosing someone to look after your child shouldn't be taken lightly.  Try and visit at different times of day to get an idea of the routine.  Take your child with you- how the staff interact with your child says a lot about them and their potential for caring for your child.

Don't automatically choose the first option
I have met a huge number of parents who have chosen their child's nursery on the basis of it being the first nursery they visited, or the closest, or the cheapest.  Visit a range of nurseries- the one that looks good online or on paper isn't necessarily the best for your child, neither is the cheapest.  Weigh up your options after visiting them all- it's often a balance between what you can afford and what's the best provider.  Try and opt for the best you can afford, your child could potentially be spending several years in their care and you want the best you can get for your money.

Don't be afraid to ask questions
I've dealt with a number of parents who have come into the nursery to enquire about sending their child there.  In my current nursery very few of these parents seem to ask questions, and parents with a list of questions seem to be in the minority.  It may seem trivial to you, but if it's something you want to know then it's worth asking- you won't be thought less of for asking.
There's an excellent article on Mumsnet with some potential questions you could ask. ( This isn't a definitive list, and you're bound to have your own questions based on the needs of your own child.


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Welcome to my blog. I'm Sarah a 30-something Nursery Officer, formerly a Primary School teacher, based in Leicester.