How to choose childcare and nurseries


childcareIt’s hard enough having to leave the little ones behind when you go back to work, but choosing where to send them can be a daunting experience. Follow our checklist to help make that decision easier – and quicker.


1. Find the right location

It’s easy to forget about location when you’re focused on finding the right place to send your child to be cared for in your absence.

But remember, it’s essential that you have enough time to deliver your kids to their childcare or school, and also be able to get yourself to work or home on time.

If in doubt – do a test run!

2. Research a number of settings

Obtaining a childcare, nursery or school place can prove difficult in some areas due to limited places and long waiting lists. Research a number of places in your locality as you may not necessarily get a place with your closest or preferred provider.

Being aware of other settings will also help you compare and evaluate which places are most suitable.

3. Leave yourself plenty of time

Choosing childcare can be a long process and is a decision that needs to be considered carefully.

Make appointments to see several settings and remember you may want to visit more than once. You might also want to take your child for a taster session to see how they fit in and evaluate how staff interact and support them.

Being thorough now could save you time later: the more you know, the better you can compare, and the less likely you are to have any nasty surprises.

4. Prepare a list of questions in advance

Before you visit the options available to you, make sure you’ve prepared a list of all the information you need to know.

These visits are often so packed full of new information that it’s often easy to forget key points you want to explore. Having a list at hand will save you time searching for the information later.

You might also find it useful to take notes to look back on at a later date or to use when comparing settings.

5. Research and consider your childcare costs

Childcare costs are high enough without having to face any unexpected surprises.

When researching and visiting childcare options, make sure you find out what extra costs might be involved.

As well as fees, consider uniform, lunches/snacks, outings, textbooks/resources and transport. Add these to your pre-visit list of questions.

More tips on cutting childcare costs can be found here.

6. Check registrations and references

Registered childminders must undergo introductory childcare courses and hold up-to-date certificates in paediatric first aid. They must also have a police check (CRB check), adequate insurance and their homes regularly inspected by the relevant governing bodies to ensure they are safe and secure. These are minimum requirements.

Check registration statuses and ask to see up to date certificates and records as appropriate. Contact references given to ensure they are valid.

Visit the Ofsted to review registrations and recent evaluation reports, and for more information on minimum required and advised standards for all childcare standards.