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Nurseries and Daycare

Day nurseries and nursery schools are for children under five. They should be registered and inspected regularly. Most day nurseries are open from 8:30am to 6:00pm , and nursery schools are open during school hours.The advantages of nursery care lie mainly the cost and the social aspect of the group setting. From a very young age your child's social development will be faster, and their social skills will be more advanced. They will learn how to interact well with their peer group.


They will have a lot of good friends and will mix well with other children, and they will also be practised at sharing. Intellectually they will get a lot out of nursery care as the choice of toys and play equipment will be huge. There will be something to help progress every aspect of your child's development. The toys will be safe, educational and fun! Also, the staff will be trained and will involve the children in all sorts of educational activities and games designed specifically to bring on a child's development. Generally their worldly knowledge will be good and they will have an understanding of other cultures and a great deal of other knowledge gained from the nursery's system of themes, which the children learn from.

Children who spend time at nursery love to go there as they not only get to see their friends but they get to play with some great toys. It must be like heaven for them! Physically they will also be nurtured, as there should be outdoor play equipment to help their gross motor skills improve and grow. Emotionally they will have a good understanding of other people's feelings and will therefore learn to empathise and show less jealousy towards friends and siblings.

The disadvantages are that if your child is in a nursery full-time from a very young age she may become less affectionate or 'clingy' and less confident emotionally. This is because young children and babies are emotionally dependant on familiar adults and need consistency and continuity of care. Your child may seem to be less able to bond on a one to one basis as they become accustomed to sharing the nursery staff's attention as well as the constantly changing faces around them. They will not be as trusting in relationships in general as they have not had the chance to bond with any particular person. Of course your child will have bonded with you, but if most of her time is spent at nursery I believe that it will affect her to a certain extent. However, if you take steps to avoid this by first enquiring about staff turnover in your chosen nursery, and sit in on a session or two to see how much affection is shown to each child, then you should be fine. Ask yourself: is the attention being evenly distributed, or are the quiet children missing out because they don't create a fuss? Are the nursery staff generally affectionate and demonstrative, warm and friendly? Ask the staff themselves if they enjoy working there and if their pay and conditions are good. This is a good indication of how long they will stay in the post before moving on to better prospects.

Remember too, if you pick a nursery where the fees are low the staff's wages will also be low and there could be a high turnover. Ask other parents about staff turnover at the nursery. Under twos are likely to be most affected from a high turnover because they are still emotionally immature and need a lot of affection from familiar adults. If you are only using nursery as an educational tool on a part time, or possibly full time, basis, for a child aged three and over then you will avoid the emotional problem and will reap the rewards of the developmental advantages. A child of 4 is very much ready for a full day in nursery school and will love her time spent there.

Make sure that the nursery you pick is not only educational in its teaching and play experiences but also that the children have a quiet time where they have stories or singing and so on. There should also be somewhere such as a reading corner where your child can sit down and relax at any stage in the day. This is important, because even children need some 'down time' in their day.

In addition, ensure that at least half of the staff are trained and that the ratios are correct. In the UK there should be a ratio of one adult to every eight children aged between three and five. There should be one per four children aged two to three , and one per three children under two. Ask to see the nursery's registration certificate and latest inspection report.

When you visit take a look around the nursery and see if there are any children with a similar temperament to your child and watch how well the staff respond to them. Apart from that the obvious things to check are that the premises are clean and safe, and with plenty of room to move about and play. The play equipment should look safe and child orientated and the surroundings should be bright and cheerful. Take it as a good sign if a lot of the children's work is displayed on the walls. It not only looks cheery, it also gives the children a sense of pride in their work. Ideally there should be an outdoor play area, but if not make sure that the children will be taken on walks or to a park to play regularly. And don't forget that the general atmosphere and welcome you are given play a big part in helping you make a decision too.

Nurseries - Helpfull Questions to Ask

Tip: Visit ChildcareLink for help finding Nurseries in your area

· How much experience do you have with children and are you and your staff qualified?
· Do your staff have first aid training and will there always be someone available who does?
· Is there an area for rest time and, if so, when will that be?
· Is working with children a fulfilling job for you and why?
· What activities are planned for my child and what kind of structure is there to the day?
· Do you operate a scheme of teaching through regularly changing themes?
· Do you update and maintain the toys and play equipment regularly?
· Will there also be free playtime?
· Will there be a time for rest and relaxation?
· Can I see your registration certificate?
· Can I have a tour of the premises and the garden/outdoor play space?
· What will be provided for meals and snacks?
· How do you reassure children and encourage self-confidence?
· Do you believe in positive reinforcement or punishment or both?
· What methods do you use to discipline the children in the nursery?
· What ages are the other children in the nursery?
· Is there a fixed circle of children whom my child will be with every day?
· Do you monitor and observe children with a view to reporting my child's progress to me?

Nurseries - What to Look For

Some helpful hints for what to look for when choosing quality childcare

· Is the general atmosphere nice and warm and friendly?
· Are the ratios as follows? Aged 3-5 the ratio is 1-8. Aged 2-3 the ratio is 1-4. Aged under 2 the ratio is 1-3.
· Are the staff caring and affectionate towards the children?
· Do they listen to and respond well to them?
· Are they playing with the children or just supervising?
· Did they give you and your child a nice welcome when you arrived?
· How well do they deal with difficult situations and misbehaviour?
· Are the children running about wild or are they playing calmly?
· Do they seem happy and content?
· Are they interacting well and chatting amongst themselves?
· Are there any kids with a similar temperament to your child, and if so how do they get treated?
· Do the children have lots to do and do they seem amused or bored?
· Are the activities educational - do they really teach your child something and do they seem age appropriate?
· Are there opportunities for the children to choose their own activities?
· Is the nursery clean and safe? · Are the toys well kept and varied?
· Is there a book/music area, a home area, and an arts and crafts area?
· Is the outside play area large, and well equipped?
· Are the other parents happy with the care of their children in the nursery?


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