Top 10 tips for choosing childcare

There comes a time after having a baby that many of us need to think about returning to work to pay the bills.  There are many different childcare options available and although daunting at first, these top ten tips from the Department for Education should help you work out the best option or options for you.

Top ten tips for choosing the right childcare setting for you and your children

  1. What type of care is best for you and your child. e.g., ‘group care’ is normally with a team of staff working with a number of children.  Childminders work at home and care for a smaller number of children.
  2. Are the staff and children talking and playing together and are the children inspired and encouraged to ask questions?
  3. Do the children have the chance to take part in a range of different activities? Does the location have plenty of space inside and outside – how easy is it for children to move freely between the two?
  4. Will you see your child’s paintings and other work – how will the staff talk to you about what and how your child is learning?
  5. Think about safety – do they have finger guards on doors? Do they have visitor control systems in use? How do they report incidents to parents?  Ask to see the written safeguarding policy – every group childcare provider should have one.
  6. Look at the staffing levels. A nursery or children’s centre should have at least one member of staff for every eight children aged between three and five-years-old, and there should be a key person with special responsibility for your child. A childminder could be caring for up to six children under eight.
  7. Do staff have relevant qualifications?  Did you know that quality is generally better in childcare settings where the staff have qualifications, particularly if at least one member of staff involved with the children is an early years graduate?
  8. How does the nursery, pre-school or childminder deal with misbehaviour, or homesickness? Again, ask to see the written policy.
  9. Is there a healthy, balanced diet on offer? Ask about how they manage children’s dietary requirements.
  10. You should always visit the nursery, childminder or pre-school when it is in full flow, and take your child with you to see what they think.

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