Is your child ready for nursery?
Spending the first couple of years at home with Norah has been a cocktail of joy, exhaustion, and exasperation! Whether you are a stay at home or working mum the day will come when your child will go to a childminder, nursery or preschool.
At two Norah has spent her time solely with me as we have no family nearby. She is about to start attending a childminder for a morning a week so later she will better be prepared to spend time away from home. A vital part of a child’s development and growth, her Health Visitor advised it will also help develop her social skills, encourage independence and reduce her (very bad) separation anxiety. Every child develops at their own pace, so pre-school readiness blossoms at different rates. Sometimes working parent schedules and family needs mean (like with my son) you may be sending you baby into a childcare setting. Whatever age one tip that will help the experience be less stressful is having a clear schedule and good sleep routine.
Choosing a provider can be an emotional and big decision to make. There are several ways to go about picking the right choice for your child. Take a moment to consider these tips and improve your search efforts.
Do your research
Once you begin looking into schools, nurseries etc the entire process can feel overwhelming. When choosing any form of childcare, don’t rush. If you are not sure of where to begin, ask around. Friends and family members who have children might be able to point you in a good direction.
Once you have a few names, start looking up the establishments online. Weed out anything that does not seem like a practical fit. Think opening hours. A fantastically rated nursery located an hour away from your home and work, for example, is probably not going to be the most sensible decision. Look at Ofsted reports and think ‘what you want your child to get out of the experience?’ Do you want somewhere homely with one adult, or perhaps a forest school with lots of outdoor play opportunities? Do they read with your children? Size may be an important factor. Large nurseries are not always a bad thing as they tend to have better facilities – but you may not want your child in a room with 30 others. If your budget is tight make sure you know what is included: nappies, meals, trips, swimming lessons etc.
The 15 hours free government childcare for 3-4-year olds is a great incentive to introduce your child into an educational setting.
Nursery reviews are helpful
One of the best ways to get a feel for a preschool is by hearing what other people have had to say. The internet will also be an invaluable resource as can be your local Children’s Information Service. It is natural to feel overly cautious while making your selection and reviews can calm some of the fears you may have in your mind. You may have heard good things about a school like Little Sunshine’s Playhouse, but the best thing is to narrow down your list and then start phoning around to book a visit. Remember this is your choice and first impressions count. When you arrive how are you greeted, does the place look in a good state of repair, what is the layout like and are there a variety of toys, can you hear children playing, the worst sign is silence! What do they do about security and people entering the building? Do not be afraid to ask lots of questions!
Consider the teachers
The educators who work for the place you are considering are also going to play a big part in your decision. While it may be wonderful to read or see that a nursery has access to excellent resources and recently had a new playground, you want to also ensure that the teachers know what they are doing. Meet the manager and people who would be responsible for your child. Do the staff seem enthusiastic and responsive? Do they interact with children on a one-to-one level or as a group?Find out what the common activities are or what an average day for your child will look like. Check how many children do they have as a maximum (also the ratios of adult care for the child’s age). Somehow if you can picture your child playing with the other children, you know they will ‘fit in’.
Prepare your child
While this decision may be hard for you, the experience is also going to have an impact on your little one. Take time to prepare. Accompany your child on a first visit to identify how he or she reacts to the new environment or interacts with other kids. Ensure there is a clear settling in period to make the transition easier. With older children you can play educational games and start doing a similar routine at home, to ‘school’.
Over stressing is only going to add a lot of anxiety to you and your child. Trust your instincts. Make sure that you do get organised and register as most nurseries get booked months in advance so its elbows at the ready to get that in-demand seat at the play table. The Good Schools Guide suggests parents take time to consider the environment their child is most suited to. Remember, be flexible. Once they start if it doesn’t feel right, you can always change to one that better fits your child’s needs.
What did, or do you want your child to go to, a childminder, nursery or preschool?
If you found this useful check out our articles ‘8 Tips For Buying Children’s School Shoes That Will Last’ and ‘A Guide For PANICKING Parents. Picking & Starting PRIMARY #School.’