Robin Nathan, the father of 2-year-old Oscar, offers his perspective on what parents are really looking for when searching for a childcare provider and what made him choose the current nursery for his son.
We had a difficult period when our son was in the baby room at his nursery – there was another child who had taken to biting some of the other children.
Our son was bitten five times within six weeks, one such occurrence resulting in his skin being broken. It’s fair to say that we were pretty unhappy with the frequency and severity of these injuries, so I arranged to see the manager and room leader. I was fuming and just about ready to blow my top whilst waiting for the meeting. The room leader came in and explained the circumstances behind the incidents, and by the time she finished she was practically in tears having felt that they had failed my boy and not protected him. Seeing this reaction and how obviously she had been affected helped me realise that the staff were doing as much as they could and they were devastated at these events. It was clear that they were feeling this as much as we were.
My wife and I both work full time – she has to get a train into London at about 7/ 7.30 every day and won’t get back until 7pm. I have a slightly more flexible schedule, although sometimes it can be a nightmare getting our boy to and picking him up from nursery. To this end, one of the important considerations for us when looking at potential nurseries was the opening hours. We are incredibly lucky that the nursery opens at 7.30am and closes at 6.30pm. It amazes me that more nurseries have not adopted similar hours. In fact, of all those we looked at, this was the only one which had these operating hours and the later closing time has proved invaluable on numerous occasions.
My son is now in his third room and absolutely loving the nursery. He has made some lovely friends and is progressing really well. It warms my heart when collecting him that the staff from his previous rooms ask after him and are more than happy to stop and have a chat.
In short, your nursery needs to provide a safe, happy, educational, challenging, fun and diverse environment – easy peasy, right?
Get the simple things right and a lot of the other stuff will fall into place. Give regular, specific feedback to parents. Ensure incidents are properly recorded and, again, give specific feedback to parents. Consider your opening hours – is there any way you could extend half an hour at each end of the day? Offer the children variety in respect of the activities, food, environment etc. – a bored child is far more likely to get up to mischief, after all!
Get the above right and make it part of the culture of your nursery and you will have motivated staff, supportive parents, happy kids and an enviable reputation.