There is no denying that the nursery years are the most important in terms of development as they set the standard for your child’s future learning and success.
Many parents opt to send their offspring to a nursery because they know that – even at this age – a positive learning environment can make a significant difference to their child’s development. Therefore, as a parent, you want to make sure that you find the right place for your child to blossom. Take the necessary time to choose; after all, this is your child’s future!
From your family’s goals to a well-rounded curriculum, the importance of safety measures to the benefits of outdoor play, read on for the essential considerations when choosing a nursery for your child. These will ensure your child receives the best foundation for their future learning.
Before you start looking into potential nurseries for your child, you first want to consider what you are hoping your child will gain from the experience. There is a wide variety of benefits that come from sending your child to a nursery. Also, all parents have their personal reasons; there is no right or wrong answer. However, to ensure you are selecting the right one for your family, you need to reflect on your own purposes.
Some of the benefits of sending your child to nursery include helping them develop their social and emotional skills through play-based teaching methods and giving them opportunities to spend time with other children, as well as developing their language skills. Moreover, sending your child to nursery helps them to prepare for their formal education as they provide a fantastic foundation for later learning. At an early age, children are able to absorb a plethora of information, which is why it is crucial that you open them up to new knowledge as soon as possible and do not forgo early learning for your little one.
While there are various methods for teaching young ones, one of the most revered is based on the Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS). For children up to age five, this stage refers to the time in which they are first presented with new ideas and styles of thinking. EYFS focuses on seven areas of learning and development:
- Personal, Social and Emotional Development
- Communication and Language Development
- Physical Development
- Understanding The World
- Arts and Design
The three prime areas (Personal, Social and Emotional Development; Communication and Language; Physical Development) help prepare children for their future and emerge through the relationships and experiences they have in the nursery. The four specific areas (Literacy, Mathematics, Understanding the World, and Arts and Design) ensure that children are establishing the necessary skills and knowledge to succeed in their future education.
Therefore, when looking for a nursery for your child, you want to think long and hard about the style of curriculum that they offer. You can be assured that a nursery that has EYFS at its core is going to be providing your child with a well-rounded education.
While there may be some separation anxiety at first, in reality, attending nursery should be an exciting time for both you and your child. However, if you aren’t comfortable with the safety and security measures at the nursery you choose, then it is going to be challenging for you to get through the days. Therefore, it is highly recommended that you consider health and safety with as much regard as the curriculum.
When looking at potential nurseries, make sure to inquire about the design and materials of the building, as well as the level of comfort for each child. Speak with other parents (or read reviews) about their views on the standard of teachers and caregivers. The educators within the nursery must be appropriately qualified and experienced. Plus, working with young children should be their passion. When visiting potential nurseries, you will be able to tell if that is the case.
You want your chosen nursery to have dependable learning tools (you don’t want to see broken equipment) and a superior standard of cleanliness. Moreover, child-friendly design (such as having gates to protect your child from falling off stairs) and unobstructed fire emergency procedures are also necessities.
Make sure to inquire as much as you want when it comes to safety and security. Don’t settle until you have found a nursery that satisfies your questions and adequately demonstrates that all necessary steps have been taken to minimize potential risks.
In addition to the classroom offerings, you also want to consider the options for outdoor play that a nursery provides. Just as important as education, outdoor play yields a multitude of benefits for your child.
First and foremost, outdoor play enables your child to engage in physical activities on a regular basis. It is harmful for a young one to spend all their time inside, doing sedentary activities; instead, they need to have time to play outdoors. The exposure to nature (and moderate sun) that they will have during these periods will help with bone growth, better immunity, and an increase in serotonin production.
Furthermore, outdoor play helps to reduce cortisol (the stress hormone) and reduces the risk of developing anxiety. Just as adults need to be physically active for both physical and mental reasons, children also benefit from outdoor activities in the same way.
Last but not least, it is during outdoor playtime that children are more prone to making friends and improving their cognitive, social, and emotional skills. These are all crucial skills for them to develop at a young age.
It is for all these reasons that the best nurseries and early learning centres incorporate outdoor play into their curriculum.
Are you currently looking for a nursery for your child? What aspects are you most concerned about? Are you having a hard time finding a nursery that fulfills your requirements? Alternatively, if you have recently gone through the nursery selection period, do you have any tips for other parents? Let us know your thoughts and any relevant experiences in the comments below.
Ayesha Hoda is a marketing and communications specialist working at Step By Step Nursery Group in the UAE. She holds an MBA degree from a leading business school in Pakistan and has more than 13 years of experience in corporate communications and journalism. She has worked in both agency and client-side roles, designing communication strategies for multinational clients, nonprofits and small businesses in various industries, such as education and healthcare.