Before I scoped out any nurseries, I expected them to all be pretty much the same. What I found, was that each was very different from the next.
This can either work to your advantage or disadvantage. For me, it was an advantage, as one fitted perfectly, but I’m sure there are nurseries out there where compromises may have to be made to pick the right one.
So here is a run down of five factors that I used to rate the nurseries on, which I hope will help others to make their own minds up.
I’ve not covered location, as that’s usually something that you’ll think about before you take a look round.
Price plays a major role in the decision of which nursery to go to – after all, you don’t want to be spending all your hard earnings on a nursery place! Unfortunately, this is something that is often not put on websites – probably as a way of making sure that their competition can’t check up on their pricing structure without doing some under cover recon.
For me, this was really annoying as price is a really important factor that actually made a sway decision for us between two nurseries. Having to go and have a tour before they gave us their pricing structure meant that one nursery was immediately ruled out after being £6 more expensive per day.
Each nursery will also have a different plan for what the price includes – but most will include food for those that have been (or are being) weaned. One of the nurseries I looked at even included branded nappies and formula, making it less faff to take in nappies and formula pots.
It depends if you have this choice, but when comparing nurseries it’s important to consider what’s included as one may be slightly more expensive, but may include nappies etc making it cheaper in the long run.
2. Outdoor play
For me, having a nice place to play outdoors is really important. I want Georgia to be able to have a bit of fresh air rather than being cooped up indoors all day. Each of the three nurseries we looked at had different outdoor spaces.
One just had a small concrete outdoor area which I wasn’t too keen on, one had a lovely grassed area split into different sections so that the bigger kids don’t trample the smaller, while the last one had a shared outdoor area, but take it in turns to go outside.
They each also had different outdoor play equipment, ranging from ride ons, sand tables and even an area to make dens.
It’s also important to look at sunshade – do they have shaded areas to be out when it’s really sunny? What is their policy on suncream?
3. Times available
Each nursery had completely different times available. Some have morning and afternoon sessions with a full day from 7.30am to 630pm as standard whereas other nurseries have an hourly rate so you can pick and choose.
It will all depend on where you work as to which choice is best for you!
4. Food standards
Food is an important factor to consider when you’re looking at nurseries. Will they stick to your weaning diet? What does their menu look like and it is nutritional? Do they buy local (if this is important to you!)?
As they prepare food, it’s also good to see how they rate for food safety. It’s also important to have a look at when they offer food. Most will offer breakfast, lunch and afternoon tea, but this may differ between nurseries.
5. That fuzzy feeling
Each nursery will also have different play equipment and be in different surroundings. For me, I got that warm fuzzy feeling in one nursery and I just knew that Georgia would love playing there. It could be down to the type of toys that they have, how independent the children are allowed to be with play (toys in boxes to pull out rather than 100% structured) and what sort of group activities they do – such as messy play!
Choosing a nursery is a very personal decision that will be a mixture of logic and heart to make. It’s recommended to see at least three to compare the differences as no two will be alike!