Choosing a nursery school for your child: 10 things that go through a parent’s head


Choosing a nursery school for your child is rather a monumentous event. Catapulting them out into the big, wide, world to mix with their peer group and learn under someone else’s guidance feels like a huge parenting step, and so it’s no wonder that for many, choosing the right nursery can be an anxious time.

While there are numerous articles and forum threads dedicated to the subject, not to mention advice and recommendations bounded your way; ultimately, it is a decision that is down to you and which can cause some, like me, to feel like a man who has lost his way in a dark forest. So many options, so many things to consider, and too many choices!

Currently I am trying to geo cache my way out of said forest, with the following thoughts going round in my head:

1. How can this be rated “Outstanding” by Ofted??!

      – Ah..Ofsted “Outstanding”, the holy grail. But seriously, sometimes these ratings just don’t seem in line with what you are seeing and feeling when you go to visit a nursery. And then how can others be rated only “Good” when they seem to you “Outstanding” in comparison. It’s a mystery.

2. I can’t believe these people have been hired to work in a nursery – Seriously, have these people really been hired to inspire, educate and serve as role models for our future? God help us all.

3. I like what the Nursery Manager has to say, but can they and their staff really walk the walk? – Finally! I have found someone who actually sounds quite intelligent and articulate, giving well considered responses to all my questions…but are they just waxing lyrical?

4. This nursery looks too good…is it too good to be true?! – Great facilities, a seemingly great approach, structure and outlook, nice atmosphere…cue suspicion: I wonder what I’m not picking up on here…

5. Maybe I should just see one more nursery…I really like this nursery, but how many should I see to be absolutely sure I’m making the right choice? And how much exactly will I fuck things up if I make the wrong decision here?

6. Argh! Can I really trust my gut? – Everyone says that first impressions and gut feelings are the way to go…but what if my gut is wrong?

7. But everyone says that other nursery is the best one – You’ve found a nursery you like, but you keep on hearing good things about that other nursery round the corner. So which do you trust more? Your own instincts? Or people’s recommendations….Be a lemming? Or break the mould? Remember what’s right for someone else, may not necessarily be right for you….right?

8. Will she(/he) really be better off being here, than at home with me? – Seriously, are you ever going to be able to squeeze in that much learning and activities into a day for your child whilst maintaining your sanity? Probably not.

9. Is it all going to be too overwhelming? – From largely home environment to 30 toddlers letting loose on a discovery adventure. OMG. Intense!

10. Fuck me, is that really how much it’s going to cost!? – Said everyone who ever sent their child to nursery and had to pay for it.

In the end, like everyone else, I’m going to have to trust that I’m making the right decision based on careful consideration and instincts. Good luck to me then!

Did you suffer nursery angst? What other worries did you have? And did you feel you made the right choice in the end?

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  1. I’d say go with your gut every time. We’re low on cash but I also don’t want to send my kid to kindergarten and have him but the out of control one that didn’t learn how things are in nursery. Ah!

  2. Ugh, choosing nurseries sucks big time. we just went through a load of stress and hassle deciding what to do since I lost my job…decided to take little G out of day care nursery and into a pre school, starting next week. No idea if we’ve done the right thing but, I bow down to point 10, pre school is FREE! 😉 x MMT

  3. I didn’t experience this. There was a nursery attached to the Surestart Children’s Centre where I went for baby groups and it seemed OK so I went with it. I didn’t even look around! Now 3 year old is about to start his pre-school hours at the same venue. It was OK. I think the main thing really is does your child like it, do you feel you are getting good and honest feedback and do you have a good rapport with the staff. You will only really know the answers to these once your child has started and been there for a while. If you don’t like it then you can change but I guess there is a struggle over places and numbers sometimes so you just have to go with your gut.
    Now just imagine what it’s going to be like choosing a primary school! 🙂 Good luck and thanks for linking #thetruthabout Xx

  4. Fortunately for me, there’s only one daycare/preschool in the town I live in, so I didn’t have to go through all of this. However, I can relate to some of it. I’m not one-hundred percent sure I agree with the the way they do a few things and it’s hard to let my daughter go off when it’s just been the two of us her whole life! On the plus side, I recently got a job at the same center, so there’s some comfort in knowing I’m just in the next room should she need me!


    • Wow there is a lot to be said for having less choice – choices seem to just overcomplicate and confuse things! But how nice that you will be at the same center! Hope the new job is going well? Thanks for stopping by x

  5. We looked at a few nurseries, but in the end chose the one that was closest to us, and on the way to work… It wasn’t the smartest looking that we saw, but we got a really good feel from it and in the end went with our guts. You really can’t tell until your child is actually there. It’s them that has to really like it, and more importantly, the staff. Here in the US we took a flyer as we had to register from the UK and went with a recommendation from a friend 🙂 Thankfully it is an amazing preschool and my little girl will be starting there next week! Good luck x #thetruthabout

  6. I can relate to ALL of this. Especially the cost woth two in! I think you definitely know when you visit a place if it’s right and I’m so glad mine have the opportunities they can give them there (covering a room in paper, skirting washable paint everywhere and letting both run around in only nappies making marks – not practical at home )

  7. Another one you could add is are these girls old enough to legally look after children? It’s amazing how young manage nursery staff are. We all go through this but it’s amazing how quickly these issues evaporate when the realities of juggling work and parenthood kick in.

  8. I was pretty lucky when I returned to work after mat leave as our niece came over from France to be our nanny for 6 months and we only put our daughter in nursery for one day a week. I’ve now got the dilemma of what to do in April when I’ve got my (by then) 2.5 and 1 year old to look after. Nursery is great for my toddler as I see her develop so much, but full time for a one year old feels too much. Both a nanny or a nursery would cost me a fortune so sometimes I think I’d be better off not going back to work at all!

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