How do I Choose a Private Nursery for my Child?

Choosing the right early years setting for your child can be daunting

Choosing the right early years setting for your child can be daunting and often feels overwhelming as there are so many options available. We all want our children to have the right support and a secure path for learning and development but how do we ensure we are making the right setting choice? Below is some guidance that might help you through the decision-making process.

It is important to note that each child and family is different, and because of this, the most appropriate type of setting for you will depend on your family circumstances and the specific needs of your child.

The majority of Nurseries have a play-based approach to learning, however, there are specific Nurseries that specialise in particular learning approaches. If you have a specific interest in these it is worth looking into what kind of learning approach you want your child to have and which Nurseries in your area have this approach. These approaches include; The Montessori method, The Reggio Emilia approach, Forest schools, Outdoor nurseries, The Curiosity Approach, Steiner nurseries (Steiner Waldorf), Froebelian nurseries, and Bilingual nurseries. Going with a specific learning approach will greatly narrow down your search.

If you are open to a range of teaching approaches (as many nurseries use a mixture of these) a good starting point is to first consider the following questions as this will give you a greater steer on the type of learning journey you want your child to have.

  • What are my child’s educational and social needs and does the setting cater for these?
  • Do I want a fully outdoor setting or an outdoor learning focus?
  • What are my learning priorities; academic progress, socialisation and play, and outdoor learning?
  • What size of setting am I looking for?
  • What is my budget range?
  • Is the Nursery connected to a school that I would want my child to progress through?
  • How often each week does my child need care and does the Nursery have flexible hours or sessions?
  • Does my child still have a nap and does the setting have sleeping facilities?
  • What lunch experience does the setting provide (packed lunch, hot meals, table manners)?
  • Does the Nursery stay open during school holidays?
  • Does the setting offer extracurricular activities?
  • Does the setting offer wrap-around care?

Once you have answered the questions that you feel are important you will have a far more focused approach for the next stage. This will be to familiarise yourself with the different of early years providers and settings that are available in your area. Make a list of the Nursery settings in your area, then contact them to arrange a visit. It is crucial that you go and visit as this will give you a sense of the place. It will give you a much better gauge of the tempo of the setting and the care that will be provided as well as the relationship that you will form with the practitioners there.

On arrival, the Nursery manager will show you around and answer any of the questions you might have. They should discuss how they will settle your child and support their development and learning. You can also ask to see their policies and procedures. Generally, as you know your child best you will get a feel as to whether that setting will suit your child and your family. At this stage, you will have made a short list and know which settings are of the most interest.

At Cargilfield Nursery we have found an effective balance in which academic progress, outdoor adventure and a child-driven/ play-based curriculum work in harmony. We have a very strong focus on kindness, respect and manners and the children are provided with a hot lunch and family-style eating experience daily. We believe creating an environment in which the children are invested in their learning and pursue their own interests and passions is a recipe for success.

At Cargilfield the children have the opportunity not only to choose their outdoor learning environments (Nursery Garden; forest; woodland or beach) but also to drive regular responsive educational outings as well as curricular choices. The children are exposed to an extensive range of experiences, clubs, and educational visits and these help us to nurture all aspects of their development and address each child as an individual.

If Cargilfield sounds like a school of interest to you, please get in touch with us to learn more about us or to arrange a visit. You can register here.

We look forward to showing you what we have to offer.

Tiffany Murdoch

Head of Nursery at Cargilfield School


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