It pays to be organised when it comes to choosing a nursery. It takes time to visit several nurseries. The best nurseries (that have been open long enough) often have long waiting lists. This means that, the longer you leave it, the fewer your options will be. It is becoming very common for parents to commit to a nursery as soon as they discover that they are expecting a child rather than waiting until the child is actually born. Some parents sign a contract for their child more than a year before the actual start date.
Most children start nursery when mum’s maternity leave runs out (or maternity pay stops). This means that children start nursery aged between seven and 13 months. However, it is not uncommon for children to start nursery when they are as young as three months old.
Our experience shows that the younger a child is when they start nursery (no less than three months) and the more sessions they do, the more quickly they settle in well.
While most nurseries offer open days, you should really seek to visit while it is full of children. Look at the engagement of staff – are they sitting around while children are left to their own devices or are they surrounded by happy children that are fully engaged in the set activity? Do the children appear to be happy and do you like the way the staff speak to them? Ask about the ethos of the nursery and consider how this fits with your expectations. Will your child be happy in the environment?
Remember that, while a nursery may be state of the art in terms of the building and its resources, it is really the staff that matter most.
Nurseries must be registered with Ofsted and are inspected regularly within the requirements of the Early Years Inspection Framework (EYFS). It is certainly worth reading the most recent Ofsted inspection as this will often shed light on certain aspects of provision that you may not have picked up on during your visit. However, please bear in mind that an Ofsted report is based on a snapshot that an inspector had access to on the day of inspection. This means that the report is inevitably limited to the highly trained but somewhat subjective view of the individual who carries out the inspection as well as the occurrences at the nursery on the day. While this is unlikely to provide a complete view of day-to-day performance the nursery, it is certainly worth taking into consideration.
It is important that you make the right choice of nursery for your child and so do not shy away from asking questions. You might want to make a list of questions you have before visiting. Good nurseries are very open about what they do and are happy to show you everything from policies to the kitchen and toilets. It is imperative that you study the nursery’s policies and childcare contract in detail and question anything that you are not clear about before committing to a place for your child.
Tel: 020 7305 5744
Monday to Friday
7.30AM to 6.30PM
You may also use our contact form if you prefer.
Baby Room (under 2s)
504A Hornsey Road
London N19 3QW
Toddlers & Pre-School
Arkansas House, New Orleans Walk, London N19 3SZ