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Barleymont Group of Day Nurseries, Preschool, Afterschool and Holiday Club

FAQ’S – How to choose a nursery

'There are many popular nurseries around your area – for some you have to go on a waiting list, for some the timings don’t suit you. You like one nursery but your child doesn’t seem keen on it’.
While choosing a good nursery many such similar thoughts go through the parents/carers mind.

A good nursery will give your child a great start in life but how do you choose?
Will someone tick all the boxes; will put a smile on your face, a spring in your child's step? Foster a love of learning and education that will last a lifetime - or at best, simply 'child mind'?

Every child is different and unique, what proves very special for one, may be ordinary or unappealing for others. At such a tender age, how do you know what will suit your child? Even knowing the strengths and talents you hope they will nurture can be confusing.

So what should you look out for?

Here are some useful Information for - Choosing a day nursery/pre-school/early years setting for your child

  • Where to start - Think about your ideal location - close to home, family or work? If there is a good nursery on your doorstep - great, if not weigh-up the benefits of travelling further for a good setting, versus the extra effort this will require.
  • Try to get recommendations from friends and family- if possible, speak with current parents. Do their ideas and thoughts about the nursery provision match your aspirations?
  • Read the latest Ofsted inspection reports - it would give you a clear picture about the setting and you can match it with your expectations.
  • Visit several nurseries - so you can get a better understanding of what they offer and a clear idea of what will best suit your child. 
  • The setting - Nurseries come in all shapes and sizes including small nurseries, larger commercial enterprises, stand alone nurseries and those attached to schools, community centres, Sports centres etc.
  • Nursery (usually starts from birth, 3 or 6 months) and Play Group/Preschool starts from 2 years, however some settings take 18 months old children as well.
  • Nursery should have plenty of space indoors and outside.
  • Our Barley Lane Montessori Day Nursery – is a purpose build nursery while Barley Lane Preschool and Afterschool operate from a community centre which is part of the church. Our Fairlop Montessori Nursery operates from spacious rooms of the Sports Centre.
  • Look for a suitable environment for your child - Settings are as varied and colourful as the children in their care. Some children thrive in busy purposeful settings with plenty of hustle and bustle, while others prefer calm, ordered environments. Some parents firmly believe their children should be free to explore experiment and lead their learning, others feel young children need routine, boundaries and rules.
  • Whatever your thoughts on the type and nature of the setting, when entrusting the care of your child to others, you should look to find a setting that will - Work with you and listen to your child. Work from your child's current development stage and needs, not from pre-conceived notions of what a 2, 3 or 4 year-old should do. Seek to develop your child's confidence. Encourage good behaviour and cooperation. Develop an awareness of, and sensitivity to, others and their feelings. Be interested in the personal, social and emotional development of your child.
  • Nursery admission needs months of careful planning and (for some nurseries) registration at least 6 months in advance. Much depends on: where you live, the type of setting you require and how essential it is to get a place secured. If you plan on returning to work, plan ahead. Sorting out placements before you have your baby can save a lot of leg work and hassle later. Nurseries can change very quickly, especially in areas with high staff turn-over, and keep an eye on inspection reports.
  • Practicalities to consider prior to a visit - Do the hours suit you and your child? Are they flexible about pick-up and drop off times? Can you sign up to different hours on different days? If not, does this matter to you? What happens if your child is ill? What happens if other children are ill? Do you want a structured learning environment or the apparent freedom of Montessori or Steiner type settings? If you are unsure visit a selection before deciding. What about children with special needs?
  • A good nursery will cater for a range of children including those with special needs. However, the type, nature and severity of your child's special needs may determine the type of setting you want for your child. Many mainstream nurseries take children with a variety of needs and meet those needs with confidence. Similarly there are some excellent nurseries specifically for children with special or additional needs. 
  • Redbridge Council is reviewing how it works with SEN children. For more information please visit the following page –
  •  Ask those involved with your child (health, education, social care as appropriate) to help you find the right setting. They will be able to advise on a range of issues and services including alternative communications, Portage plus specialist therapies such as music, speech and language, occupational therapy, physiotherapy. They should help practically too, for example with any one to one support your child needs. Visit several nurseries, even if you are set on one particular nursery it is always good to have something to compare. Find out what experience they have of dealing with other children with special needs (both similar to and different from those of your child).
  • If your child has not been diagnosed as having a special educational need but you have concerns, ask about Early Years Action Plus either at the pre-school setting your child attends or prior to starting at nursery/pre-school. It is difficult, but not impossible, for a child aged under two to be assessed for a statement of special educational needs. Also visit and make contacts with your local children’s centre.
  • At Barleymont settings we make excellent contact with our local children centres and work closely with family support workers, health visitors, and speech and language therapists.