Once you know the type(s) of childcare you are looking for, and have found a few different childcare providers, it is a good idea to visit several of them in your area to see which one is best for you and your child. Arrange a time to visit each one and it is a good idea to take your child along to see how staff interact with them and how your child fits in. Try to go when other children are there so you can see if they are calm, happy and busy.
Here are some questions you should ask and consider when visiting:
- Is this the right type of childcare for my child?
- What are the opening hours?
- What is the price?
- How to pay the fees?
- What are the ages of the children?
- Is there space for your child?
- Are they Ofsted registered? (Ofsted is a government organisation that inspects companies, schools and individuals providing childcare and education to children)
- How long have you been working with children?
- Have you undertaken any training for your job? Any qualifications?
- Do you enjoy being with children and why?
- Can I look around the building to see the rooms and outside play area? If there is no outside play area, how will you make sure your child gets the chance to play outside?
- Where will your child rest?
- What kind of food and drink will you give?
- What will your child do all day?
- How do you encourage good behaviour?
- Will your child be with regular groups of children? How old are they? How will their timetable fit in with your child?
- How will you make sure I know how my child is getting on?
When visiting possible childcare options look out for these questions to help gauge the quality of their care:
- Are the children calm, safe and happy?
- Do children play and talk together?
- Are the staff listening to the children and answering them carefully?
- Are the staff friendly and proud of their work?
- Are the staff joining in with what the children are doing?
- Are there lots of fun activities planned to help the children learn and play? Can children plan some of these themselves?
- Are there plenty of clean toys and equipment for children to use?
- Is the premises clean, well-kept and safe for children with a fun outside play area? Or will the children go to parks and other places regularly?
- Do parents have plenty of chances to say what they want for their children
- If there are other things you want to know, do not be afraid to ask. Good childcare staff expect you will ask questions and will be happy to answer them.
- Ask for references and always take them up. 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.