To a young child, the big world away from home can seem a daunting place.
But, sooner or later, you may want your baby or toddler to go to an early learning and childcare setting, for example if you are starting back at work or for your child to take up their free Nursery Education funding. As a parent or carer you may find this quite daunting.
A recent Channel 4 Dispatches programme ‘How Safe is your Child’s Nursery’, may have left parents feeling confused and unsure about using childcare, after all parents want the experience to be as good as possible and for the young ones to be happy in this new and very big outside world. In Shropshire we believe that every child matters and we want to help you choose childcare that suits the particular needs of your child and family.
So, what should you look for when choosing quality childcare?
- When considering the best option for your child you should visit a number of settings when there are children present. This will give you a feel for what it’s like for a child there. Do the children have a say in what they are doing? And are all of the children’s individual needs being met?
- If at all possible take your child with you to see how they react to the environment and talk to other parents who use the setting to find out what they think about it. Think about welcome you and your child are made to feel and how the staff not only inter-react with the children but also how they relate to you as a parent and plan to involve you in your child’s learning and development.
- You should expect to see a variety of activities available that are appropriate to the stage of learning and development for your child and think to yourself, ‘Do all the children look happy and engaged in a range of stimulating activities?’ Does the setting seem like a child friendly environment? Children should have access to an outside play area and be able to play and learn outdoors throughout the day. What is the outdoor space like?
- One of the biggest worries for parents if knowing how safe their child would be at the setting. You should ask staff what measures they have to place to safeguard children, what risk assessments they carry out, what training and qualifications the staff have, what policies and procedures are in place, what security is like at the setting, and also how do they encourage positive behaviour between the children.
- You can also read a copy of the settings latest Ofsted inspection report which will give you an account of how Ofsted view the setting. The judgements Ofsted give are Outstanding, Good, Satisfactory or Inadequate. You should also ask the setting if they have received any complaints from parents, and ask for a copy of their complaints policy.
A good setting will understand why you are asking these questions, so ask as many as you want before making your decision.
Whatever childcare you choose for your baby or child you will have the peace of mind that all registered providers are checked by the Criminal Records Bureau, are inspected by Ofsted and follow the Early Years Foundation Stage, the focus of which is on meeting the individual needs of each child.
Remember there is no precise recipe for quality. Every setting will have a different feel and a different philosophy so it’s vital to find out what best suits you and your child.
If you would like further information about available childcare in Shropshire or if you have concerns about the quality of a childcare setting then please get in touch on 01743 254400 or email ShropshireFIS@shropshire.gov.uk