Before you decide on a childminder, pre-school, nursery or other childcare provider for your child, it is important to understand certain factors.
- Children's needs
- Parental involvement and communication
- How nurseries or pre-schools and out of school providers are managed
- Questions for childminders and nannies
- A child's point of view
To help you decide, here are some of the questions to consider asking the childminder, pre-school, nursery or any other childcare provider you intend to use.
- can you tell me about how you will protect my child and keep him/her safe at all times?
- how will you support my child’s needs during the day/session?
Parental involvement and communication
- how will we communicate about my child’s needs on a day to day basis?
- will my child have a specific person to support them and if so, how will I be notified of any changes?
- do you encourage parental involvement and if so, how will you share this with me?
- how will you be assessing my child’s development?
- how will this be shared with me and how often?
You should ask to see the childcare provider’s last Ofsted inspection report, evidence of public liability insurance, registration certificate and paediatric first aid training certificate.
You may want to talk to them about the Early Years Foundation Stage, their key policies on for example safeguarding, child protection, sickness, attendance and complaints.
- what are the opening hours/holiday/sickness arrangements?
- what immediate vacancies do you have?
- what are the fees?
- when are the fees payable?
- are there any additional charges, for instance for food, nappies, outings?
- will I be charged if I am unable to attend, for instance going on holiday with my child?
- if my child is ill and kept at home, will I be charged?
- how much notice will I / you need to provide to end the arrangement?
How nurseries/pre-schools and out of school providers are managed
- how is your organisation managed?
- who is in charge?
- what qualifications and experience do your staff have?
- do your staff regularly attend professional development training?
Questions for childminders and nannies
- do you take children to any community play based groups or children’s centre activities?
- do you have any cover arrangements for your sickness or holiday commitments?
- what training, qualifications and experience do you have?
- do you maintain regular continuous professional development?
A child’s point of view
Children view things very differently from adults. Although the issues we consider as a parent or carer are very important for our children's safety and well-being, they are often not the most important issues to young children. If possible, try to take your child with you when you visit the pre-school, nursery or childminder. After the visit, talk to your child about how they felt in the environment. It is often surprising what they say about how an environment made them feel. You might want to consider questions below that a child may be concerned about when in a new environment. Often observing staff responses and your child's interactions during the visit can give you an indication abut how well they may settle.
- does anyone notice when I come in; do they say ‘hello' to me?
- can my mum / dad stay until I feel happy, if I want them to?
- can I easily reach the things I need (toys, handles, toilet, coat, wellies)?
- are there any people, or pictures of people, who look like me?
- is there somewhere I can be quiet/by myself?
Things to do
- are there a variety of things to play with?
- can I choose what I play with?
- can I play outside when I want to?
Food and Sleep
- what happens if I am thirsty or hungry?
- will they make me eat food I don't usually eat at home?
- do I have a specific person to look after me?
- who do I tell if something is wrong?
- if I really want my mum / dad, will they get them for me?
- does anyone tell me what I am allowed and not allowed to do?
- what happens if I do something wrong?
When possible you should ask your child for their thoughts and suggestions. They know you better than anyone else, and you will know them better than anyone.