Monday, 23 September 2013

Operation find a Nursery- Pre - Visit Prep

As mentioned here  I explained why it is going to be very difficult to find childcare that is 'good enough' for Baby E when I go back to work.

Today I am going to share top tips of things to consider  before visiting potential childcare settings..although I have written 'Nursery' we are also considering childminders.

I must stress that none of these should individually impact your choice for setting, instead they should all play a role in deciding where to visit.  I also understand that finding time is very difficult and some of these might appear time consuming BUT for me personally this is helping me decide who will be taking care of my child for the majority of the working week, so I was willing to put in the time along with my husband.  In fact he enjoyed some of the responsibilities (I have him 1 and 3 - together we did 5)

1. Map It Out

If you are totally new to this it is the easiest thing to do.  For example  I  typed  'day nurseries in Leeds' and this map appeared with links to the nurseries and locations.  This is very useful to get a feel for how many are around you.  
It is crucial to think about the commute you and/or your partner make to get to work and highlight nurseries that are convenient. 
Also it is worth while considering places near your or your partner's work- convenient and if your child falls ill suddenly it can be easy to get to them quickly

2. Ask Around

Personal recommendations go a LONG way when looking for childcare and schools.  Do not be afraid to ask friends or even acquaintances.  Also if you are a member of a  local 'mummy facebook' group or just a local group there is no harm asking for recommendations.  Sticking to just 'Google' could be flawed as not every childcare option may be on the map.
I must also add that it is important to not be swayed entirely by what/who friends suggest.  Although tempting to have your children go to the same place as their best friend bear in mind that that place might not be RIGHT for your child

3.  Fees


Most childcare settings have fee information on their website or a brochure/perspective parent book can be requested prior to the visits.  In my experience while settings can vary on their costs, they are not usually widely different but it is important to have that information beforehand to help making your decision of where to visit.

4.  Ofsted Reports


Ofsted reports can be a very useful document when thinking about childcare and schools for your children.  I will be detailing in my next blog post how to use the Ofsted website effectively.

5. Rank Your Top Choices

If you have done tips 1 to 4 (or some of them) you are going to have a lot of pre-visit information.  It might feel like a little TOO much. However, time is not something we have on our side and I am not personally able to visit every nursery/childminder on the map.  As a result I would prefer to make an 'informed' decision of the childcare settings I decide to visit.
It is important to decide how many visits you are able to make (with or without partner) and then rank the settings that are of highest interest.

6.  Book visits

I would suggest booking your visits to the nursery between Tuesday-Thursday as these are often the busiest times.  This will allow you to see a much more 'accurate' picture of how the settings runs.  Monday and Fridays tend to be quieter (as these are the preferred days off work) and everything runs much more smoothly on quiet days but this is not a 'true' picture of the day.

Do you have any other TOP TIPS that worked for you? If so please share in the comments section.

If you are 'totally new' to this and not sure where to start I would strongly recommend that you visit  more than one childcare setting.  I can assure you that no settings are the same and you need to find the 'right fit' for your child.


  1. Hello! I think the priorities will always be slightly different for everyone but this is a pretty good list... However, I'm dubious about Ofstead reports as there is one nursery in my area that consistently gets 'outstanding' but several parents have taken their children out of it and moved them to the one Mushroom is at (which is 'good') because they are so unhappy. I've heard rumours that they know when Ofstead visits are and behave completely differently... Not good practice, I know...

    So... When I visited Mushroom's nursery for the first time I turned up unannounced at a time I knew would be well after naps. I know this can be disruptive but luckily they were back from an outing and the manager was happy to see me and apologetic about the 'mess' (it wasn't messy - the kids were just playing!). I loved their honesty and it helped that they are also the cheapest nursery in our area!

    I don't know if any of that is helpful but just wanted to share... :-)

    1. You are TOTALLY right! I am in the process of writing an Ofsted Navigation Post BUT have put a warning with you said they DO get it wrong. I have been to some nurseries that TOTALLY deserve Outstanding BUT on the day the staff get SO nervous and almost freeze...and as you said above I have been to nurseries that I have been VERY worried about BUT on the day they know how to 'put on a show' that is not reflective of their everyday practice.
      Great that you turned up unannounced! Good tip