Choosing childcare--What to ask for?

When you visit any childcare provider or interview a nanny, make sure you come away with answers to the important questions. Here are some suggestions.

Questions for childminders
Here are some key questions you may find useful:

  • How long have you been working with children? What made you decide to work in this area?
  • What training have you had and do you have any qualifications?
  • Have you done your first aid training?
  • What do you like about working with children?
  • How will you encourage good behaviour in my child?
  • How many children do you look after, and how much individual attention will my baby or child receive?
  • What sort of food and drink will you provide for my child?
  • What will my child do all day? Do you have a routine that will help him settle in with you? This is also a good time to bring up the TV question - in some homes it's on all day as a matter of course.
  • Where will my child sleep during the day? Can I see the room and/or the cot?
  • Do you go out to play at the park or toddler clubs regularly?
  • How will you let me know how my child is getting on?
Questions for nannies
You can ask most of the questions above of a nanny, too, although you may also want to add these:
  • Are you willing to go to playgroups or parent and baby groups so my child can mix with other children?
  • What has been your experience with babies of my child's age?
  • Are you able to be flexible about hours if necessary?
  • What would you do if there was a health or safety emergency?
  • Why did you leave your last job?
  • Do you have any friends working as nannies in the nearby area? (If so, they're likely to come to your house in the day so you may want to meet them too, if only briefly).
Questions for nurseries and preschools
For a nursery or preschool, you can ask all the above questions, and add others:
  • Can I look around the building and see the rooms where my child will be? Where is the outside play area?
  • How many children are your staff caring for, and how much individual attention will my child receive?
  • Do you organise regular outings for the children?
  • Can you offer flexible hours and/or a part-time place?
  • What's an average day like?
  • What's staff turnover like? A good nursery should be able to retain its staff.
Source: BBC
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