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Choosing childcare: what to look for

Choosing childcare and early education is a big step for you and your child.

Two little girls playing with coins

You can find out about the childcare and early education services in your area from the Families' Information Service. Ask about opening hours, price, age of children and if there is a space for your child.

There are lots of differences between the types of childcare, early education or pre-school services and individual childminders, nurseries, nursery classes or out of school clubs. Try to visit several possible options in your area to get a good idea of what could suit your child. Don't forget you are the expert on your child and trust your feelings.

Take your child with you to see how staff talk to him or her. Try to go when children are there so you can see if they are calm, happy and busy.

Here are some suggested questions to ask when you visit:

  1. How long have you been working with children?
  2. How have you learned your job?
    • Any qualifications?
    • Do you enjoy being with children and why?
  3. Can I look around the building to see the rooms and outside play space?
    • If there is no outside play space how will you make sure my child gets the chance to play outside?
  4. Where will my child rest?
  5. What kind of food and drink will you give?
  6. What will my child do all day?
  7. How do you encourage good behaviour?
  8. Will my child be with a regular group of children?
    • How old are they?
    • How will their timetable fit in with my child?
  9. How will you make sure I know how my child is getting on?

Top ten quality pointers

When you visit possible childcare options, look for these Quality Pointers.

  1. Are the children calm, safe and happy?
  2. Do children play and talk together?
  3. Are the staff listening to children and answering them carefully?
  4. Are the staff friendly and proud of their work?
  5. Are the staff joining in with what the children are doing?
  6. Are there lots of fun activities planned to help children learn and play?
    • Can children plan some of these themselves?
  7. Are there plenty of clean toys and equipment for children to use?
  8. Is the premises clean, well-kept and safe for children with a fun outside play area (or will children go to parks and other places regularly)?
  9. Do parents have plenty of chances to say what they want for their children?
  10. If there are other things you want to know, do not be afraid to ask. Good childcare staff expect you to ask questions and will be happy to answer them.

Top tips

  • Always take up references.
  • You could ask for names of other parents to talk to about your chosen service
  • Listen to your child and find out more if he or she seems unhappy
  • Always trust your own feelings about your childcare - you know your child best.


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Article utilities:  Bookmark and Share Print Print this page Last updated: 11 Sep 2017 at 14:07