When your child starts with a nursery, playgroup or childminder they will carry out an initial assessment with you and your child so that they can understand and identify your child's strengths, interests and next steps.
This is important, as it gives the childcare setting a starting point from which they can plan and tailor your child's care and learning to make sure that they are able to thrive and enjoy their time in nursery.
Childcare providers understand that you, as parents, know the most about your child and it is therefore important that you tell the childcare provider about the types of things that your child likes to do, about any concerns that you have (regarding your child or the childcare that is going to be provided) or about anything else that you think might be important for them to know.
For example, some children will settle in on their first visit and others will take a little longer to get used to their new environment. Let the provider know if you feel that your child is a little insecure, then a longer 'settling-in period' may be introduced, where you can initially stay and play with your child for longer, to make sure that they are okay.
What will my child need to take?
Each childcare provider will have different facilities and the types of things that your child will have to take with them each day will depend upon the times of day they are due to go and the activities that are due to take place.
For example, outdoor play is strongly encouraged across all types of childcare provision, no matter what the weather! So, your child may need to take a waterproof coat or perhaps sun cream, but don't worry, your childcare provider will discuss all of this with you.
It is not advisable, however, for your child to take their own toys into a childcare setting where there will be other children. Experience shows that children tend to become very possessive over their toys, which can cause disagreements. Children can also become very upset if they cannot find their toy in the setting or if it gets broken or taken home by someone else.
How will I know that my child is doing okay?
Along with the initial assessment, regular observations are carried out on all children to help providers to monitor progress. This makes sure that your child is stimulated and that any areas for concern or focus can be identified and addressed.
It also allows the childcare setting to provide you with feedback regarding how well your child is getting on, or to discuss any issues or concerns. In order to do this effectively, it is important that your child attends regularly and for the number of sessions or hours that were initially agreed when your child started.
Learning plans developed for your child will have been created based on the days or hours that your child is due to attend, and these plans will only work if your child goes to the setting as agreed.
Obviously, there will be instances when you might be late dropping off or picking up your child due to personal circumstances, or your child might not be able to attend because of illness. However, if this happens a lot it can be very unsettling for your child and will make it harder for the childcare provider to make sure that your child is progressing well.
It is important for your child to get the best out of their time at nursery, playgroup or with a childminder, and this can be helped with a regular routine, familiar faces (childcare workers and other children) and by allowing them to maximise time to play, learn and socialise.
What if I have any concerns about my child's early education?
Any problems should be discussed in the first instance with your childcare provider; however, if you feel that your concerns are not being addressed appropriately then you can contact the following:
- If you think that your child is not getting their full entitlement (perhaps the number of hours agreed is not being delivered or the setting is expecting you to make some form of payment to keep your place), or if you are considering moving your child to another provider, then please contact our funded early years education team on 01744 676542.
- If there are welfare or safety issues, then please contact Ofsted on 0300 123 4666.