Choosing childcare--What to look for?

As well as asking the right questions of your potential childcare provider, there are some specific things you should look for. Here's some advice.

if you're visiting a nursery or preschool

  • Children who look calm, safe and happy.
  • Plenty of clean toys and equipment for the children to use, plus an attractive outdoor play area.
  • A quiet area where your child can have a nap.
  • Carers who listen to the children, take notice of them, answer their questions and play with them. You're looking for carers who enjoy being with children and obviously like their work.
  • Plenty of examples of the children's work displayed on the walls.
  • Children mixing well, talking and playing together.
  • The member of staff showing you round should show an interest in what you want for your child. If your child is with you, she should be keen to make contact with her.
  • A clear routine for the children.
  • Feedback - how will you find out what your child has done all day?
when interviewing a nanny
  • Qualifications and experience. References from a previous employer are essential - as well as getting written references, you should also talk to previous employers.
  • A positive, cheerful attitude and a real interest in your child.
  • A clear idea of a child's needs and a willingness to talk through all the key issues such as food, discipline and routine.
when meeting a childminder
Childminders will have completed first aid and childminding courses and have necessary insurance. Other things to look for include:
  • A clean and welcoming home, with lots of suitable toys and an outdoor play area, or a park nearby where the children will be taken.
  • Registration certificate and references from other parents.
  • A draft contract from the National Childminding Association. Childminders can also draw up their own contracts and although this is not a legal requirement it's good for both parties to have a document covering the basics, such as hours, pay, sick pay and holidays.
  • A reasonably flexible approach to your child's particular needs or routine.
You should also have a clear discussion about who else lives in the house and whether anyone smokes. Also find out whether there are any pets (especially important if your child has asthma or eczema).

Source: BBC
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