From working in early education and childcare settings for a number of years I learnt a thing or two about what to look for when choosing a childcare provider. For many parents trusting someone else with the care of your child is huge decision to make and one not taken lightly. It may be that your returning to work after maternity leave or looking for a playgroup to allow your child some independence but either way there are a few important aspect to consider.
Check If The Setting Is A Registrared Childcare Provider
When starting to look for a childcare provider your first point of call should be to draw up a list of registered childcare providers in your local area. You can usually obtain a list from your local council. Childcare providers in Scotland should be registered with Care Inspectorate and in England Ofsted. Choosing a registered childcare provider ensures the settling has been fully inspected by the regulating body and continues to be monitored. You can read the latest inspection reports online. Once you have drawn up your list make arrangements to visit the settings. Always visit more than one so you can make an comparison.
Qualified & Experienced Staff
Its important to find out if the people caring for your child are qualified and experienced. Ask how many of the staff members are fully qualified and how long they have been working in the setting? A good provider will usually have a low staff turn over and the majority of the practitioners should have relevant qualifications. Look around to see how the staff are interacting with the children. The moral of staff will impact on the childrens experience therefore happy staff creates a more relaxed and joyful place for the children.
Do The Children Look Happy & Busy?
When visiting the setting have a good look around to see what the children are up to. Do they look relaxed and engaged in play? Ask about the play experiences and activities that are on offer for the children and how they are planned to meet the children's needs.
Changing, Feeding & Sleeping
Being clean, well fed and rested is essential to your child's welbeing so be sure to ask how the setting will provide this care for your child. How offen do they change nappies? Do they provide freshly cooked meals? Where will your child sleep? Have a good look at these areas to check they are safe, clean and hygenic.
Size Of The Setting & Outdoor Space
Personnaly I prefer a smaller setting that limits a maximum of around 15 children per room. Larger setting can be duanting for some children. Think about how your child will cope in a new environment, would they be more comfortable and confident in a smaller more peaceful setting? Maybe you think they would thrive in a busier environment?
Ask to see the outdoor space the setting has to offer. Fresh air and an opportunity to run around is important. Check that the area is well maintained and secure.
Before deciding on a childcare settings it's worth thinking about the long term practicalities. You may have fallen in love with an amazing nursery on the other side of town and initially think you won't mind adding an extra 20 minutes into your daily commute but in the long run you might decide that actually it's too much and end up regretting the decision and moving your child to somewhere more practical. The same goes in regards to fees, if realistically long term the fees payments might be a struggle then be honest with yourself and look at other nurseries with in your budget.
Of coarse there are many other aspects to consider when choosing a childcare provider but I hope this advice helps if your currently considering your childcare options.