Top Tips to Finding Quality Childcare
By Allison Marlowe
When choosing the best childcare environment for your child's individual needs allow plenty of time to make your choice.
- Know your options - speak to friends and family, personal recommendations are an excellent start.
- Consider your child's age and personality, particularly so when it comes to small babies and children under the age of two, who need a closer one-to-one relationship.
- Note down your basic requirements e.g. hours, cost, location, and make these your first questions when you start to phone around.
- All three and four-year-olds are entitled to free part-time early education. Call ChildcareLink on freephone 0800 096 02 96 for the address and phone number of your local Children's Information Service (CIS) who keep an up- to-date list of local and registered childcare and early years services.
- If choosing a nursery always ensure it is registered with OFSTED.
- The registration certificate should be displayed together with a current certificate of insurance.
- Always visit the childcare providers yourself - inspections and accreditation are no substitute for your own judgement. You know your child best, so keep in mind your gut instinct, too.
- Ask plenty of questions. Here are a few for consideration What qualifications do staff hold?
- Is there a safe and clean outside play area? Is the interior bright, warm, clean, well decorated and welcoming? Is the equipment good quality, clean, safe and appropriate?
- What sort of meals are provided and at what time? Is the food fresh? Can they provide for special diets? Are the menus changed on a regular basis?
- Do the children in the nursery look happy and well occupied? Are the children using a variety of equipment and are staff involved with their play?
- Are the staff looking happy, relaxed, well presented, calm and confident?
You will find it well worth the extra time to choose carefully because if your child is happy and secure, you and your family will find your lives enriched as well.
About The Author: Allison Marlowe, founder of Allison Marlowe Ltd coaches, inspires and challenges women in business to achieve new levels of success. She can be contacted at www.allisonmarlowe.com.