We recently had a letter home from nursery to say that Patrick is ready to start visiting the toddler room to help him transition out of the baby room. This change got me thinking about how this time last year I was worrying about childcare options and how it would work around our jobs and I was generally in a state of panic. It seems like nursery has always been a part of his life, I barely remember what it was like when I was on maternity leave and spending every day with him.
We only viewed two nursery’s when we selected where he was going to go, he was 4 weeks old and we had know idea what sort of place we were looking for. The opening hours were a huge consideration for us, both of us worked fairly demanding hours and we found a lot of nurserys were only open 8-5, which wouldnt give us enough time to drop him off and commute (little did i know I was going to be made redundant a month before returning to work). We also found that some nurserys even shut over half term which would complicate matters. It almost seemed like a lot of children’s nurserys were developed around the lives of people that didnt work!
When we walked into the first nursery that we viewed I found it very chaotic and cluttered. The building was orginally a house on a local estate near us that had been converted. There didn’t appear to be much order and the children seemed to be left to roam without a lot of supervision. I know that for some parents this sounds ideal, but it just sent alarm bells ringing for me. This viewing made me realise that what I wanted for Patrick was somewhere that felt very calm and structured. He needed somewhere that would gradually prepare him for life at primary school, otherwise it was going to be a huge nasty shock for him if he was used to running riot at nursery.
He was eight and a half months when he started and I wanted him to be somewhere relaxed and peacful where he could have fun (organised fun!). The second Nursery we walked into was peaceful, there was a lovely big entrance hall so you could take your shoes off and battle with pushchairs etc fairly care free. The walls were covered in lovely displays the children had made and photos that had been taken of them enjoying their activities at nursery. There was also a large notice board, so if any letters didnt make it home you could catch up with any goings on.
The preschool children had a large classroom and the toddlers and babies had slightly smaller rooms on the upper floor, all clean, beautifully presented and a decent size. We were really drawn in by the approach this nursery took to help the children to become more independant. I wasnt a particularly confident child, which I know is very normal, but it mean’t that I didnt enjoy a lot of things as a really young child and I would like to avoid that for Patrick if at all possible. The nursery manager explained that they try to follow the routines we have set in place at home for the little one and asked how we dealt with various situations so they could make sure Patricks experience at Nursery was similar to home. Each child is assigned a ‘key’ person to look after them so it offers them consistency. They also explained that if the child takes a natural liking to a key person that isn’t his own, they would try and change it so that they are. Luckily Patrick really seems to like his key person and so do myself and his dad.
They keep a little diary each day he is there and it has details of nappy changing times (and what was in the dirty ones), food he ate and nap lengths with a brief discription of the activities he has enjoyed that day. As well as this they keep a large diary almost like a scrapbook, which has some of his ‘artwork’ in, some of the milestones he has reached as they happen (crawling, feeding himself etc) and photographs of him enjoying himself. The diaries were extremely important to me, especially the photos. Its great to know what he has been up to, but to see him enjoying new experiences and things we wouldnt do at home that regularly, such as messy play.
From the get go We had a great feeling about the nursery and we have never regretted our decision to send him there. I definitely think it was important to view the first nursery to make us realise what it really was that we were looking for, we just got lucky and found the right one on our second viewing!
Good luck choosing your nursery!