Nursery school is the first proper experience where your child will be mixing with other children outside the family home. It’s also an early taste of being away from their parents for an extended period of time. Most importantly, it’s your child’s first step into the world of education – so it’s important you get it right! However, with so many different factors to consider, its clear to see why many parents would feel slightly overwhelmed when it comes to finding the best place to entrust their little one for the first time.
Do your research
It’s never too early to start looking for a nursery. Nowadays, competition is higher than ever and most reputable nurseries tend to fill up quickly and have extensive waiting lists. It’s hard to believe, but it’s not actually that uncommon for some parents to really prepare and start looking before their child is even born! Before you start your search, it’s worth making a list of all the key things that are important to you as a parent so you have a clear picture of what you want from a nursery school from the outset. Things like creative facilities, class sizes, extra-curricular opportunities and teacher-to-pupil ratios are all top considerations (remember, the statutory requirements for under-threes is one adult to four children, and for over-threes, its one adult to eight pupils). Reading Ofsted/ISI reports is another good guideline, but try not to get too bogged down with them and limit yourself to just schools that are rated as “outstanding”. Often, ratings include factors such as whether a school has a church hall versus a specifically designed children’s space.
Establish what your child needs
All families have different requirements so it’s important to find a nursery that fits within your lifestyle. For instance, Eaton Square School has three different sites across central London that parents can choose from – so our parents can find a nursery which is conveniently located close by. Nowadays, most nurseries also offer flexible sessions where you can choose to add an extra hours or after-school activities on certain days. We’ve found this works really well for many of our parents, particularly those who only work part time and don’t require full day care throughout the entire week. Likewise, it’s also worth thinking about whether you want a nursery that is attached to a preparatory school. Again with fierce competition for places, this is often a good idea. Many of our parents really value the seamless transition we provide between nursery and the Pre-Prep section of our school.
Go with your gut
The important thing to remember is that your gut instinct is usually right. Many of the parents we speak to often say they chose Eaton Square simply because it felt “right”. After all, you are experts when it comes to your own children. You know their likes and dislikes, the environments they thrive in and what kind of surroundings they need – be it places with lots of open space for running around, intimate class sizes for those that are shy or easily distracted by big groups – or somewhere that focuses on creativity and holistic learning. The best way to seek out your perfect fit is by visiting as many nursery schools as you can. It might be time consuming but it will ultimately pay dividends. Most good nursery schools will be happy to schedule one-on-one appointments with the prospective parents where they’ll give you a guided tour of its site and facilities. Also don’t be afraid to visit the same nursery more than once – think of it like buying a house or a car – as it’s a big decision and not one that you can just rush into. Sometimes a second or third visit can highlight the things you missed the first time around and really help cement you decision. At Eaton Square Nursery Schools, we actively encourage parents to come back more than once as it’s so important to really get a feel for the environment your child will be in on a daily basis. Whatever you choose, make sure your little one remains in the very heart of your decision. Nursery school plays a fundamental role in their growth, development and happiness, so the environment that caters to their individual needs and natural talents, is one in which they will thrive.
Taken from ‘The Guide To Independ Schools’ Autumn 2016