In choosing a good day nursery for your child there are several important considerations to explore through extensive research.
The first thing to do is establish what your budget is and what you can realistically afford to pay. It is important to stick to this budget even as you may be tempted to pay more for a day nursery as the search process unfolds.
First, write down the criteria you feel are the most important for a nursery to possess to allow you to feel comfortable and confident enough with so that you can entrust your child to them. This may and will likely change as your research progresses but prioritize what are the most important aspects so you can pinpoint the nursery that is the best for your child once you find some good candidates. A great all-round day nursery like https://www.littlehandslittlefeet.org/ should not be hard to find. A good tip is to write them down or to enter your different important aspects in a spread sheet. This will enable you later to rank the different day nurseries under your different benchmarks by assigning a value from 1 to 10 on how each nursery meets the criteria you laid out.
Some of the common aspects to consider are: cost, certification and licencing, number of years in business, location, how are the children supervised (are their digital cameras?), staffing levels, staff retention and benefits, physical facilities and amenities, security provisions, number of children enrolled, age range of the children, activities offered, food preparation facilities and menus, hours of operation, emergency procedures, what is their level of health care preparedness (for example do they have a nurse on stall and what is their proximity to a hospital) and do they have a strict no sick child policy, established ground rules (for example review the flexibility for picking up your child if you get delayed) and the layout for parking to drop off and pick up your child (Is it safe?).
A critical consideration to focus on is the ratio of staff to children. The younger the child the smaller the ratio should be. So too with the ratio of space to a child both inside the nursery and outside in the play area.
Next, set a wide net to identify all of the day nurseries that are close to where you live, start with Google Maps, and are within a distance you feel comfortable either driving or walking to every workday. This is a good example for identifying priorities, is it really important that the day nursery be in walking distance or are you comfortable driving to it.
Research and Reviews
The starting point is to talk to your friends and neighbours to get recommendations and any cautionary tales. First-hand reports from parents that have children enrolled in a nursery are invaluable. Sift for both the good and the bad. Be very mindful of any reports of parents removing a child from one nursery. They may not fully disclose their discomfort so you may need to read between the lines. It could be that they feel the new nursery is superior and you can probe for why they see it as preferable over their previous nursery.
Google the different nurseries and look for written reviews. Scan for concerns that are raised frequently. Go through the nursery’s social media accounts and note the good and bad in other parent’s comments and ratings. Also look under the ‘News’ tab in Google to see if they have had any media coverage either good or bad. You can also search for the name of the nursery in conjunction with the local newspaper to see if there is older news coverage of the facility.
Also look under the Video and Images tabs in Google when you search for the name of the day nursery for any videos and images of the operation so you can get see what their facilities and amenities look like without having to physically go there as you screen the various nurseries.
Talking to other parents and doing your online research will help you develop a list of candidates for a good nursery for your child. Go back to your list or spreadsheet and re-evaluate your criteria. In the course of your initial research and reading reviews, you may discover your priorities have changed. Rank your preferences from the most important to the least essential.
If you like you can go a step further for your evaluation and assign a value of 1 – 10 for how each prospective day nursery in your opinion scores on each of your criteria. You can add up the total sum of your individual criteria for each prospective nursery to help you quantify what nurseries best fulfil your needs. You can add bonus points to those nurseries that score well on your highest priorities.
After you add up all the columns for each prospective day nursery to get their numerical rating; Set up interviews and visits for those nurseries that have the highest scores.
Interview and Visit
Develop your interview questions based on the priorities you have laid out. Visit and interview your top 3 or 4 nurseries. Go on a detailed tour looking at the little things like how happy the children and staff look, the state of the toys and would you like to eat the food. In a face to face meeting and ask the tough questions especially if there is a constant theme that is a concern in the reviews, you have scrutinized that needs to be clarified. You are interviewing to find who you can entrust your child to; Don’t hold back.
Based on the interview results re-rank the nurseries. Make sure there is a comfort and a fit for you with the nursery you select. Carefully. review their rules and ensure that you can comply with all their rules. Also as alluded to at the start, ensure that the cost of the day nursery is within your budget.