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Childcare, nurseries and schools

Tips for choosing childcare

From childminders to children’s centres, there are lots of places to find childcare. But how do you know which one is right for you and your little one?

Once you know what’s available in your area, talk to other parents about their experiences and recommendations to help narrow down the choices. It’s then worth visiting and trying out different options – take your child with you and see how they feel about them! Don’t be scared to ask lots of questions: there are pointers below to get you started.

Bear in mind that popular venues can quickly get full so may have a waiting list – plan ahead as much as you can.

What should you ask your childcare provider?

  • Do you have space for my child for the dates and times I have in mind? You may also want to ask about any notice period if you need to leave the nursery.
  • How do you keep children safe and secure? Depending on the type of childcare, you may want to check who they’re registered with and/or their DBS clearance.
  • How many children and carers do you have? Smaller groups or lots of carers ensures each child gets lots of attention.
  • What kinds of activities do you carry out with children? What toys and facilities are available? Are there opportunities to play outside or to visit the local community?
  • How will you update me about my child’s progress, or about events and activities at the centre? If socialising with others is helpful to you, you may want to ask about activities for parents as well.
  • How do you involve or work with parents to help settle children? Depending on the age of your child, you may need to check who provides nappies and formula, or how your baby’s routine will be maintained.
  • How do you make use of the Early Years Foundation Stage or its equivalent? The EYFS sets standards for the learning, development and care of children from birth to 5 years old: read more about it in the free PDF What to Expect, When?

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