Guide To Choosing And Applying For A Nursery Place For Your Child
Updated: Dec 23, 2022
The Flowers Day Nursery in Swansea
When you are thinking about your child starting nursery it is a huge decision and milestone in both yours and their life so getting it right is extremely important.
Our informative guide will support you to find and choose the perfect nursery, ensuring you think about the right things when starting your search and making your application.
When Should You Start Your Search For A Nursery?
When it comes to applying for a nursery, there is no right or wrong time.
You may be entitled to support towards your childcare costs and you can find out more here. Children aged between 3 and 4 in Wales can receive up to 30 hours of free childcare per week if they are eligible. As part of the Foundation Phase, all 3 and 4 year-olds are guaranteed 10 hours per week of free childcare.
Our first piece of advice is to try not to leave your search for the right nursery until the last minute. Leaving it late can often mean you rush your decision, choose the wrong nursery for you or your child, or you find the perfect one but they don't have a space available.
Often good nurseries have waiting lists so researching and finding the right one for you and your child as early as possible means you can get them on the waiting list for a place at the earliest opportunity.
If you are currently on maternity leave and you have a rough idea of when you will be returning to work then as soon as you feel ready start looking online at the nurseries around you and near your workplace to get an idea of locations and facilities.
If your child hasn’t attended a nursery at any time in their life then often it's a good idea to find a nursery for them to go to for a few hours a week to ensure they are used to being away from you and family before they start school. This will make the transition to school much easier for them. As we’ve said above, as part of the Welsh Foundation Phase, all 3 and 4 year-olds are entitled to 10 hours of free childcare a week so it's a great way for them to start without it costing you anything.
Start to think about what you are looking for in a nursery including:
Activities you’d like your child to be doing
What hours of nursery care will you need or would you like
How much will you be able to spend on nursery costs
Will you be using childcare vouchers towards the cost of nursery and if so the nurseries you look at will need to accept childcare vouchers
Do you want a nursery that offers indoor and outdoor activities
Do you want the nursery to have parking for ease of dropping off and picking up
Will you want your child to be provided with varied and nutritional food whilst at nursery
Do you want a nursery close to home or closer to your workplace? Often having your nursery closer to your workplace means you have less chance of getting stuck in traffic and being late picking them up
Use the internet to look for the nurseries close to home and near your work and start to look at what they offer as well as getting a feel for them and what they do. Ask family, friends and neighbours if they have recommendations as this is always a great place to start. Ask them what they liked about their nursery, what they didn't like, and if they would look for anything different in a nursery if they were to look again. Speaking to a parent whose child has been to, or goes to a nursery is a great way to start to understand what you should be looking for.
If you don't have any family members or friends close to you that you can ask, join a local Facebook page and ask for recommendations and why they would recommend.
Arrange Nursery Visits
When you have narrowed down the nurseries that offer you and your child what you need and you like the look and feel of them from your searches online, give them a call and ask if you can arrange a visit.
If there are ones you aren't too sure about it's still worthwhile going to see them as visiting them gives you a good feel about the children and how happy they seem, the staff and carers, as well as seeing the environment and the toys and equipment they have. If their website isn’t any good it doesn’t mean their childcare isn’t.
You can visit nurseries on your own or you can also take your child with you. Taking them with you enables them to see the nursery, and often you will see how they react to being there as well as how the staff interact with them.
Before you visit think about the things that are essential to you and the nice to have things so you can look out for them, or ask about them when you are there. Ensure you speak to the team members who will be looking after your child so you get a feel for them and how they care for the children.
Look out for how happy the children being cared for are, do they look relaxed and safe. Look at the environment, does it look fresh and clean. What does the equipment look like? Are there lots of the children’s work displayed on the walls?
Take A List Of Questions WIth You
If you visit a lot of nurseries you can sometimes get a bit jaded so always have a list of questions that you ask each one as this will give you a consistent overview of them. Also, ask if they have a waiting list and if you want to apply for a place how you go about it.
Each nursery’s application process will vary but you will normally need to fill out a form or forms online to apply for a place. You may also need to provide a deposit to secure your child’s place.
As well as your questions being answered, also listen to your gut feeling as this tells you a lot about how you feel about a nursery. It’s a daunting process leaving your child for the first time so you need to ensure you are completely confident in the nursery and the care they provide.
They should talk to you about how they will ensure your child settles in with them and will often offer ‘settling in’ sessions, which are normally an hour to start with and they then increase to 2,3 hours. It's good if you do these sessions before you go back to work as you can drop them off and not be distracted in work about leaving them.
When you’re looking at nurseries, also think about:
Did the staff seem friendly and caring?
How were the staff interacting with the children?
Did it feel clean and fresh?
Were there different learning/play areas?
Was there a variety of toys and equipment depending on the age of the children?
Was there a garden or outdoor area?
Were meals and snacks provided and were they prepared on-site?
Was there a dedicated rest and, or sleeping area for the children?
What security was in place?
What were their security procedures? (for example, if a family member or friend was picking your child up how would they know to release your child to them?)
What care options were there? (full days, half days)
What hours of care are available?
Did they have a waiting list?
How much does their nursery care cost and what is included in the cost?
Are meals, snacks and drinks/milk and nappies included in the cost of the nursery?
Always ask as many questions as you can to find out everything you need to know before you make your decision. If you are unsure at any time give them a call or ask to visit them again. A good nursery will completely understand this and be happy to spend the time with you to ensure you make the right decision.
About Us - The Flowers Day Nursery
We offer full or half-day sessions to suit your childcare needs. Babies can start with us from the age of 3 months up until preschool age and then up to 8 in our before, after and school holiday clubs where we drop off and collect them from the local schools.
We really are a family at the Flowers and our team are focused on caring for and supporting your child every step of the way. We understand that starting nursery can be tricky for both you and your child and we do everything we can to support you through this. We have been one of the number one nurseries in Swansea since 2004 and our professional team has a wealth of experience in childcare. Our team all have a minimum of Level 3 Childcare as well as Food Hygiene, Child Protection and First Aid certification.
We are located on the outskirts of Swansea City Centre in a beautiful Grade II listed building. We have our own parking facilities, meaning the drop-off and pick up your children it is both safe and easy for you.
Our aim is to support your child’s emotional, social and academic development in a caring and home from home environment where they feel safe and content with us.
We are open Monday to Friday from 07.30 to 18.30, except for Bank Holidays and we can often support you with ad hoc childcare sessions as we appreciate work commitments and plans can change at short notice. Our ethos is to work closely with you to ensure they have a smooth transition to nursery with us and that they love and enjoy their time with us.
We accept all of the main Childcare Vouchers and support the local government funding schemes which can be used on their own or as part of your childcare hours and costs.
Some of our articles below will help you when you’re choosing and applying for a nursery place for your child.
If you would like to find out more about us, give us a call on 01792 46 44 45 and one of our team can answer any questions you may have, as well as arrange a visit for you to come and meet the team and see the children in our care.