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Getting it Right When Choosing a Nursery

by Eddie Rayner

Concerned about finding the right nursery for your child? How do you choose? What are the best things to look for and how do you know whether the nursery is right for your child? We spoke to Louisa McCormack, Principal at Ladybird Nursery Al Barsha, to find out what you should be looking for, what you should be asking, and how you can support your little ones when you first enrol them.

Once you have decided that it’s time for your child to go to nursery, you have to decide what type of curriculum you are looking for, the distance you are prepared to travel, and the available budget. “I would be prepared to visit several nurseries before making a final decision. Reach out to the nurseries and arrange tours,” Louisa begins.

“When touring a nursery, look out for the amount of space the children have; this is important. How many different areas of play inside and outside are they able to go to and how often? What facilities do they have for the warmer months when the children are not able to be outside? How happy do the staff look? Are they warm and welcoming? How do they communicate with parents? Ask about the policies and procedures surrounding meal times, behavioural management, and support with potty training.

“I think it’s also very important to ask about the staff ratios in class and the number of children in the classroom per day, as well as the qualifications the teachers and assistants hold and the annual staff turnover. Certain aspects of nursery life are more important to some than others. For example, a younger child would need to sleep during the day. I would be asking about the sleep room and policy around sleeping. Are they with an adult the whole time? Are they able to sleep when they want to? What is the settling-in policy?”

“It’s very important to support early learners when they start at a new nursery, with honesty being at the top of the list”

Have I Done the Right Thing?

Naturally, once a decision has been made, it’s human nature to think, “Have I done the right thing?” “Was that other nursery better?” So how can parents set their minds at rest that they have made the right decision? Louisa suggests that a good indication you have got it right is how supported you feel as a family and how your child settles and responds to the teacher and surroundings whilst they are there. Do the children talk positively about their day when they get home?

Are they excited to go back?”

Not everything will run smoothly of course, as Louisa explains: “Transitioning into a nursery can be an unsettling time for both children and their parents, but the children must not feel their parents’ anxieties, as this will make them more anxious. Look out for changes in a child’s routine. Has their sleeping been affected? Do they seem clingier when they get home? Or do they get upset when you leave the room when they didn’t before? Have they started having toileting accidents again? It is very normal for a child to be affected in this way.”

Consequently, it’s very important to support early learners when they start at a new nursery, with honesty being at the top of the list. “Let them know where they are going and for how long,” Louisa advises. “Take the children for a tour of the chosen nursery at least once so they can visualise where they are going and get excited about what they have seen. Talk positively about the nursery and how excited you are for them that they are going to make lots of friends and enjoy themselves. Show photos of the teacher and assistants so they recognise a face on their first day.”

“I think it’s also very important to ask about the staff ratios in class and the number of children in the classroom per day”

Making the Child as Comfortable as Possible

“We have a very gentle transition period at Ladybird, individually tailored to each child. We ask the children to come in every day (even if they are only signed up for two or three days) for short periods of time, increasing the time each day until the child is completely settled. This allows them to build on the understanding that their main carer will come back for them.

“We send lots of literature before a student starts at the nursery explaining our policies and procedures so the parents fully understand what will happen and when. We also ask for lots of information from the carers about the child. We call this the ‘getting to know you’ form. This form gives the teachers valuable information about the child’s needs and interests so they can plan accordingly to make the child feel as comfortable as possible.

“At Ladybird, we also have an activity at the classroom doors, which allows the children to express how they are feeling as they enter. This allows them to let the teacher know if they are great, good, I’d like to talk, or I’m struggling. It’s all about ensuring that the child knows that they are being listened to, feel comfortable with their teachers, and are given the room and understanding to grow and prosper,” Louisa concludes.

Louisa McCormack, Principle of Ladybird Al Barsha, Nhaving previously been Deputy Manager of its JVC branch. She is a qualified Early Years Educator and holds a Level 5 Diploma in Leadership for Health, Social Care, Children, and Young People’s Services.

Ladybird Nursery Al Barsha

+971 58 829 4462